A strong start was brought abruptly to a halt by a (faulty?) fire alarm at the Swan Theatre, which quickly emptied the auditorium out into another cold and drizzly night. However, the actors quickly found their form again and we are soon sucked back into the political foray of ancient Roman rulers.
A solid cast is lead by Patrick Stewart as Antony, Harriet Walter as the insatiable Cleopatra and John Hopkins as Octavius Caesar. All three spin and spark off each other creating a storm of high emotions juxtaposed with subtle touches, each displaying the depth and complexity of their characters.
Walters is quite beguiling as Cleopatra and almost fizzes with excitement when she is with Antony. She is both sexy, cool and self obsessed beyond all reason. Stewart’s Antony is energetic and forceful and he is good match for Walter’s Cleopatra. John Hopkins as Caesar appears youthful and vulnerable, regretting almost immediately his decision to give his sister Octavia as a bride to the lusty Antony to seal their poltical agreement.
Doran’s direction is simple and unfussy preferring to let the language do the work, no line is ever thrown away, every meaning has been explored and its essence extrapolated.
A minimal set design by Stephen Brimson Lewis gives an uncluttered and unpretentious setting for the action to unfold within.
Other notable performances include Ken Bones as Enobarbus, Keith Osborn as Agrippa and Golda Rosheuval as Charmain Cleopatra’s attendant. This outstanding cast brings the magic of Shakespeare’s work to life and makes it a joy to watch.