ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
AT THE FOLGER THEATRE
Antony and Cleopatra is a study in contrasts.
It will go from this—
To this.... in two hours in front of our eyes.
For starters, their relationship has been explored and exploited in every form. As one of Cleopatra’s modern biographers, Stacy Schiff has observed —she has had the busiest of afterlives with incarnations as “an asteroid, a video game, a cliché, a cigarette, a slot machine, a strip club, a synonym for Elizabeth Taylor.” Antony on the other has been documented in detail in Roman history. Together the two some have been featured in plays and movies (including one horror film) and opera.
The Folger production uses for the stage a triangular platform in the center of the theater, very simple but an effective way to remove all distraction from the core of the story and bring the audience into the circle of the experience.
The costumes are lavish from Cleopatra’s gold crown and lovely capes to Mark Antony’s military uniform. These are not just ornaments but part of who these characters are, literally the most powerful people of their day.
Yes, and yet their vulnerabilities of their shared love is profoundly doomed.
Shirine Babb as Cleopatra and Cody Nickell as Mark Antony, bring to their roles both the magnificence of this powerful political pair in a shared passion that ranges from bed to battlefield and back again. They deliver some very funny lines as well as embrace their ultimate tragic endings most convincingly. (I observed some people sitting on the edge of their seat as if this was a breaking news story.)
Shakespeare of course had other royal characters and other doomed pairs of lovers. Antony and Cleopatra might remind us of some them, while being ever unique among his works.
WANT TO KNOW MORE
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Robert Richmond
On stage at Folger Theatre, October 10 – November 19, 2017.
Scenic Design by Tony Cisek, Costume Design by Mariah Hale, Lighting Design by Andrew F. Griffin, Sound Design by Adam Stamper, Wig Design by Tommy Kurzman.
Photos by Teresa Wood.
Cody Nickell & Shirine Babb talk Cleopatra:
Cleopatra explained in 30 seconds:
Theater Timelapse Video: