Antony and Cleopatra

I had expected more passion and more punch from Unmasked Theatre's rendition of the classic Shakespearean play Antony and Cleopatra. But it was a young and inexperienced cast and the audience was full of friends, supporting the actors on stage.

The political angle finally built to some sort of crescendo - there was some shouting and the kissing became more believable.

The play tried to involve the Profumo scandal from the 60s in a political atmosphere between Mark Antony and Julius Caesar and a clandestine love affair between Antony and Cleopatra, a dancing girl at an Egyptian nightclub. The script stayed true to the Bard in places but in other places, where it had been adapted and modernised to fit the new settings, it felt rushed. I did not follow much of the story, possibly because it was shortened by the necessity of time.

The acting felt a little wooden and the Eyptian dancers lacked any real power of sexual suggestion, despite a good effort at choreography. Antony made a good effort as the brash politician, and Caesar was well-cast as his counterpart but I felt Cleopatra was unalluring as the modern Queen. The wrestling scene between the men was not convincing, although it was a good attempt to involve physicality. The political battles between them at the end of the play gathered a lot of energy and were spoken well, although the script could have developed more sense of political intrigue and deception.

I was so looking forward to a mature attempt at this play, which is famous for its beauty and passion, and the idea of involving British politics was fresh and exciting.

The ending of this play did bring me back into the room. The political angle finally built to some sort of crescendo – there was some shouting and the kissing became more believable. I also liked the way they portrayed Fleet Street journalists and their clamour as they surrounded Cleopatra's apartment. But it was a relief when she finally drank the poison, as it signalled an end to both our pains.

Finally, I want to mention the female singer, who slipped in between scenes, who had a lovely voice and sang some modern classics. But, in summary, the play needed to catch the violence and tragedy of Shakespeare better.

Reviews by Priya Kantaria

Rialto Theatre

Antony and Cleopatra

★★★
39 Colbourne Road

Always, With a Love That's True

★★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

London 1963: a summer of parties and elections. Cabaret star Cleopatra catches the eye of the people's candidate, Marc Antony, setting in motion events that will change the nature of British politics forever. Inspired by the Profumo scandal, Unmasked Theatre present a dazzling re-imagining of Shakespeare's classic love story combining cabaret, historical events and live music. Unmasked Theatre, The Writers Bloc (Nominated for Best New Play, Brighton Fringe 2017), and Cream return to Brighton Fringe following a sellout show in 2017.