Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director; produced playwright (21 plays). Scripts pub. Currency Press. She worked as actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate was Head of Drama/Teacher, NMIT; Coordinator of Prof. Writing/ Editing, Swinburne Uni. Read her reviews here or: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Monday, 30 April 2018
Antony & Cleopatra, April 27, 2018 ***
Written by William Shakespeare,
Bell Shakespeare Company
At Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, until May
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published in Herald Sun Arts online on Mon April 30, 2018 & later in print. KH
Catherine McClements & Johnny Carr
Antony and Cleopatra are like a middle-aged Romeo and Juliet, but with an
overwhelming lust for power that accompanies their long-standing love.
The play occurs between
40BC and 30BC when the powerful triumvirate of Antony (Johnny Carr), Octavius (Gareth
Reeves) and Pompey (Lucy Goleby) form an alliance to rule the Roman Empire, but
this unity eventually dissolves into war.
Performed on a pastel design
(Anna Cordingley) that merges corporate lounge with plush hotel room, Peter
Evans’ production omits any visible signs of military action or violent warfare,
focusing instead on the backroom machinations and boozy revelry of Antony,
Cleopatra, Pompey, Octavius and their retinues.
This modern perspective
provides insight into the corporatised decision-making of war, but it leaves
the production lacking a sense of danger, with the only bloodiness occurring at
the death of Antony.
Dressed in a modern pants
suit, Catherine McClements is engagingly mischievous and manipulative as the
vain, powerful Queen Cleopatra, capturing her insecurity in love and her capricious
rage when crossed.
Evans eliminates any
sense of Cleopatra’s exoticism and beauty, and he also diminishes Cleopatra’s
role as the sole powerful woman in this story by transforming the male Pompey into
a woman far more powerful and glamorous than Cleopatra.
Johnny Carr effectively
depicts Antony's dissolute behaviour and his later disillusionment, but his
portrayal emphasises Antony's weakness, with no sense that he was ever powerful
in the past. Carr seems miscast as Antony, looking more like a hipster barista
rather than a powerful, ageing Roman General.
Ray Chong Nee is
commanding as Enobarbus and the richness of his voice and his magnetic presence
may well have suited the role of Antony.
There is little romantic
chemistry between McClements and Carr, so the passion that is essential between
this ardent couple is sadly missing.
Strangely, the most
passionate scene in the production is the dying farewell between Cleopatra and
her serving women, Charmian (Zindzi Okenyo) and Alexas (Janine Watson), capturing
as it does their love and grief.
interpretation of Antony and Cleopatra successfully depicts the backroom power
plays but its modern interpretation lacks passion and coherence.
By Kate Herbert
Catherine McClements, Johnny Carr, Ray
Chong Nee, Joseph Del Re, Lucy Goleby., Ursula
Reeves, Steve Rodgers, Jo Turner,Janine Watson
Lighting Designer Ben Cisterne
Composer & Sound Designer Max Lyandvert
Movement & Fight Director Nigel Poulton