Antony & Cleopatra – Liverpool Playhouse
I went to see this last night at The Playhouse.
Being a complete Shakespeare virgin I approached this with a little trepidation as it is done using the traditional Shakespearean language and is 3 hours long!
I was pleasantly surprised.
The play moved along with pace and the language (I am sure that I missed a lot of the story!) was understandable and the main plot was quite easy to follow. Antony has a love affair with Cleo. He is called back to Rome and offered the hand in marriage of his rival’s sister. His rival being Octavian.
Cleo’s not too happy about this but what can she do.
Antony discovers that Octavian is planning wars behind his back so returns to Egypt and resumes his relationship with Cleo, raising armies to fight Octavian and Pompey.
He is eventually defeated, takes his own life and then, the climax of the play, Cleopatra takes hers.
Jeffery Kissoon plays Antony with a great emphasis on him being pretty much an unsophisticated fool in love. No match for the scheming Octavian. Kim Cattrall plays Cleopatra in a much lighter way than I expected emphasising her vulnerability. She seemed to me a young woman caught in a political situation she could not control and losing the love of her life. Very well played both.
The actor who stole the show, however, was Martin Hutson who played Octavian. He played this character with an almost camp quality which really gave an insight into how the character may have actually thought and behaved. A sort of geeky yet strong man.
I think that it is also a credit to the director, Janet Suzman, that this play was so accessible. It was a fairly traditional production I think but moved along and told the story with great pace and some wit. I didn’t realise that there were some laughs in this play. A few of the glances by Kim Cattrall obviously borrowed from Samantha Jones.
As I say, I was a complete Shakespeare virgin until last night but would recommend this to other novices. Lovely performances, a fast pace and a real pleasure to sit in the historic and beautiful Liverpool Playhouse and enjoy the sort of play that was probably performed when it first opened in the 1860’s.
A must see, particularly for first timers to Shakespeare.
My Verdict 5/5