Monday, November 12, 2007

Performance Notes: Antony and Cleopatra

Royal Shakespeare Company, Novello Theater
February 6, 2007
Directed: Gregory Doran
Featuring: Patrick Stewart, Harriet Walter, Ken Bones

* Change of location indicated by lighting (Egypt = warm/gold/red, Rome = cold/silver/blues, Sea = dark/jewel tones, Battles = grey/smokey, Monument = candle lit/very dark)

* Stage vaguely Elizabethan. Two trap doors (bottom and top), two doors, three visible levels, no permanent setting

* Costumes of Egypt were simple and white. Costumes of Rome divided between red (Antoney) and bluish purple (Caesar). Red can denote passion, cooler colors = cooler heads? And purple is nobility. Lepidus in white, neutrality. Pompey in black, common villain.

* Scene changes fluid, with instances of change happening around characters from previous scene (the pause after the meeting of the triumvirate, with Antoney and Caesar eyeing each other warily)

* Caesar somewhat prudish- reactions to the drinking party, delivery of lines regarding Egypt’s luxuries, refusal to look at Cleopatra during Act 5. Also incredibly twitchy (very little growth over the play, disappointing) and creepily obsessed with his sister (taking her to bed, incestuous kiss)

* Octavia surprisingly sympathetic, feeling she does care for Antoney in some way and is genuinely pleased to be married to him

* Unclear if Cleopatra plans to betray Antoney when Thidius comes (I think not, but unsure). Very clear she and Seleucus are in cahoots at the end (whispered discussion before Caesar appears, meaningful looks during discussion of withheld treasure)

* Antoney’s death beautiful. Platform coming down from highest level, careful raising of him (don’t remember the lines about his weight), beautiful image of a fallen hero. Lighting gave him a glow.

* Levels used well. Two instances of sitting being important- Antoney faking out Caesar during triumvirate meeting, Pompey making the triumvirate sit on the floor (Caesar cross legged, very school-boy)

* “The time of universal peace is near” dictating to Agrippa. I hate Caesar.

* Show opened with soldiers waiting for Antoney before the lights went down. Antoney shows up, only to giggle over a whip (?) and disappear for shenanigans with Cleo. Let’s the audience in on the sense of impatience and frustrations of the soldiers.

* Cleo’s costumes very simply. In gold at beginning and end, but middle all white shift. Egyptian of equivalent of modern girl in pj’s because her boyfriends out of town (why dress when no one sees?). Took off the wig during discussion of age and left it off till death, nice humane touch. Cleo very aware of her own ridiculousness

* Antoney very merry, very much in denial throughout. More self-destructive through drink than you might pick up in the text.

No comments: