Shakespeare is sometimes tough to follow, but man….. do Ralph and Sophie shine!!!
Antony & Cleopatra is, of course, a love story but it is also a political thriller. Director Godwin sees it as not quite Romeo and Juliet and not quite Julius Caesar but a bit of both.
Caesar and his assassins are dead. General Mark Antony now rules alongside his fellow defenders of Rome. But at the fringes of a war-torn empire the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and Mark Antony have fallen fiercely in love. In a tragic fight between devotion and duty, obsession becomes a catalyst for war.
Antony & Cleopatra isn’t an easy play. It’s long, it spans a love affair and a civil war, and its two protagonists who are meant to be so in love they are willing to give up the world for each other, spend most of its duration quarrelling. It also contains some of the most sublime poetry in Shakespeare and two epic tragic parts.
This is a mature tragedy intended for actors in middle age. Romeo and Juliet kill themselves for love of each other; Antony & Cleopatra do so for fear of public shame, both reckoning with what it means to die a noble death.
For research, Godwin travelled to Egypt and considered how the country of Shakespeare’s imagination was very different from his own. The production was done in modern dress but we are still capturing the culture through the lens of Shakespeare’s imagination.
UK 2019, 221 min, rated M (offensive language & content that may disturb), incl one intermission
Directed by Simon Godwin
Starring Ralph Fiennes, Sophie Okonedo, Tunji Kasim, Fisaya Akinade & Katy Stephens