ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
by William Shakespeare.
Chichester Festival Theatre Oaklands Park PO19 6AP To 29 September 2012.
Mon-Sat 7.30pm Mat Sat & 19, 27 Sept 2.15pm.
Audio-described 21 Sept, 22 Sept 2.15pm.
BSL Signed 27 Sept 7.30pm.
Captioned 29 Sept 2.15pm.
Runs 3hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 01243 781312.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 September.
A world well lost quite well recreated.
Partly recast, Janet Suzman’s production arrives in Chichester after an earlier run at Liverpool Playhouse.
There are gains. But this is a play of gaudy nights and salad days, and it’s vital lust for life courses through those who make death love them. Michael Pennington’s success as a classical actor comes from the sense that all his character says is thought-through.
Which, with his resonant vocal resources, enhances most Shakespearean roles. Except Antony, for whom abandoning reasoning has become a way of life. When emotions are being considered Pennington’s fine. But instead of spontaneous expression he seems to be demonstrating how someone else would behave. As Antony, he’d make a fine Enobarbus.
This production has that in Ian Hogg, whose sense of soldierly experience and regret at leaving Antony becomes realisation of his mistake when Martin Hutson’s Caesar faces him and orders his officers to put deserters from Antony in the front-line.
Hogg’s greybeard Enobarbus emphasises his former commander’s advanced years; though age cannot wither Cleopatra, it’s certainly grizzled her lover. When Kim Cattrall’s Cleopatra and Pennington argue, it looks as if King Lear had caught Goneril on one of her better days.
Cleopatra’s managerial desk-work has gone since Liverpool – though her specs are still evident. She remains impressive in the first half, flashing through a range of intense moods, even the deliberate-seeming moments not out of tune with Cleopatra’s cunning.
But later scenes, on Chichester’s thrust stage rather than behind Liverpool’s proscenium arch, leave her stranded in some unbecoming semi-armour, without much sense of amour between her and her lover.
Hutson is striking as the business-suited managerial type, cost-effective even when giving instructions to indulge his own army. It’s another of his lean and hungry-looking portrayals started by his politely ruthless Nazi apparatchik in Collaboration (2008) at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre.
There’s a definite gain having Caesar’s sister, and Antony’s second wife, now played by a woman; Ruth Everett expresses Octavia’s loyalty and loneliness; the sight of her supported by her brother, the two alone on the stage, makes the first half’s close if anything stronger than the conclusion itself.
Cleopatra: Kim Cattrall.
Mark Antony: Michael Pennington.
Enobarbus: Ian Hogg.
Octavius Caesar: Martin Hutson.
Octavia: Ruth Everett.
Lepidus/Canidius: Martin Herdman.
Charmian: Aïcha Kossoko.
Iras: Pepter Lunkuse.
Messenger/Snake Man/Soldier: Terry Doe.
Mardian/Soldier: Offue Okegbe.
Soothsayer: Harmage Singh Kalirai.
Alexas/Soldier: Cornelius Macarthy
Eros: Mark Sutherland.
Philo: Simon Hepworth.
Varrius/Scarus/Guard: Cghris Garner.
Proculeius/Soldier: Jack Bannell.
Agrippa: Mark Gillis.
Pompey/Thidias: Oliver Hoare.
Dolabella/Soldier: Barnaby Sax.
Menas/Soldier: Ken Shorter.
Director: Janet Suzman.
Designer: Peter McKintosh.
Lighting: Paul Pyant.
Sound: Sebastian Frost.
Music: Corin Buckeridge.
Voice coach: Barbara Houseman.
Fight director: Terry King.
Assistant director: Anna Orford.