ANTONY & CLEOPATRA
by William Shakespeare.
Liverpool Playhouse Williamson Square L To 13 November 2010.
Mon-Sat 7pm Mat Sat & 4, 11 Nov 1.30pm.
Audio-described 11 Nov 1.30pm & 7pm.
Captioned 6 Nov 1.30pm.
Runs 3hr 10min One interval.
TICKETS: 0151 709 4776.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 October.
Salad days and gaudy night given a bright revival.
In its beginning is its end. Janet Suzman’s Liverpool revival opens with shafts of light picking out a robed, masked Cleopatra standing over Antony, slumped at her feet, dead drunk. Kim Cattrall’s Cleopatra will only don such ceremonial regalia again for her suicide. And while Antony will no longer be the sluggish figure of the start, the great Roman leader will have shown himself indeterminate and making misjudgements through the “dotage” that’s cracking his army’s morale from the first line.
Among the brick-wall surrounds of Peter McKintosh’s set are glass panels. At times these reflect characters who might themselves reflect on their actions. But purposeful action, the Roman quality, is what wins the day. Martin Hutson, so impressively apt as a smilingly insistent Nazi in Ronald Harwood’s Collaboration at Chichester brings a mix of boyish eagerness and ruthless determination to Octavius Caesar.
It matches perfectly the cross-sex casting of his sister Octavia. Mark Sutherland’s size makes for a very tall lady, while the male imitation of the female manner gives a detachment complementing Hutson’s Octavius. It’s not Antony’s insults to her as a real woman, but as an emblem of Octavius’ pride that causes something as close to fury as his manner could come. At the same time it’s clear this Octavius could never reach the core of feeling Antony experiences.
This, despite a certain stolidity in Jeffery Kissoon’s performance; it’s hard to believe someone who seems to say things so deliberately really “o’erflows the measure” emotionally. No it’s the “serpent of old Nile” who carries the case for a world well lost. Cattrall never overplays the hand – the soldier bearing bad news gets off lightly by comparison with most productions, and with Antony’s behaviour here in a similar situation.
Cattrall’s Cleopatra is free of any sign of effort; this really is someone born to rule (she’s glimpsed as a hands-on monarch) and to embody love and desire. It’s a major performance in a large cast that’s not often distinguished. But Suzman’s staging is both rapid (it never feels a long play) and fresh, making a crisp, clear, coherent evening.
Cleopatra: Kim Cattrall.
Mark Antony: Jeffery Kissoon.
Enobarbus: Ian Hogg.
Octavius Caesar: Martin Hutson.
Lepidus/Canidius: Martin Herdman.
Charmian: Aicha Kossoko.
Iras: Gracy Goldman.
Alexas/Snake Man/Soldier: Muzz Khan.
Mardian/Soldier: Offue Okegbe.
Soothsayer: Bhasker Patel.
Messenger/Seleucus/Soldier: Simon Manyonda.
Eros/Octavia: Mark Sutherland.
Philo/Soldier: Alex Blake.
Scarus/Varrius/Soldier: Robert Orme.
Proculeius/Soldier: Ross Armstrong.
Agrippa: Mark Gillis.
Thidias/Pompey/Decretas: Oliver Hoare.
Demetrius/Dolabella/Soldier: Rory Fleck-Byrne.
Menas/Soldier: Ken Shorter.
Director: Janet Suzman.
Designer: Peter McKintosh.
Lighting: Paul Pyant.
Sound: Sebastian Frost.
Composer: Corin Buckeridge.
Fight director: Terry King.
Assistant director: Anna Orford.