Antony and Cleopatra at the Globe
The first thing that hits you as you enter the Globe is the gorgeous heady smell of oak, wafted your way by the gentle (hopefully) summer (if you’re lucky) breeze. Of course, the potential of slashing sheets of rain and gale force winds are always a possibility, but then don’t doubt that still the show will go on.
Jonathan Munby’s production of Antony and Cleopatra has certainly met its fair share of trials and tribulations: losing both its Antony and his understudy to sickness, as well as its Lepidus, Canidius and its schoolmaster to injury. As of the eve of 29th May, however, Clive Wood is back in Antony’s robust boots, and the remarkable Christopher Saul had stepped in to cover the injured James Hayes, script in hand as he rallies peace in the Roman Empire.
The play is a hearty, spirited and lusty rendition, full of might, splendour and beautiful poetry. Eve Best’s Cleopatra evokes both the seductive allure and reassuring comfort of the matriarch from her bold, savvy performance; Phillip Correla’s Pompey hits notes of valiant confidence that are almost childish, but perfectly balanced with chivalry and good humour. The nucleus of the show, however, revolves around Wood’s Mark Antony. He not only fills the stage with his commanding presence, booming and guzzling with his strong elocution, but his presence is somewhat familiar and comforting, complementing the matriarchal power of Cleopatra. He holds himself heavily and powerfully, at perfect odds with Jolyon Coy’s stern Octavius Caesar. Coy emits pomp and ceremony with every pacing step and authoritative judgement, resembling something like a slick, velvety puffin.
Together Wood and Coy depict the perfect polarity of Antony and Caesar, helped no end by their shared respect and brotherhood. The smart staging and choreography helps emphasise the distinctions and parallels between the two – particularly during the challenging battle scenes. As well as for practical purposes the choreography of the play is immensely cheering and humorous, supporting the traditional aesthetic of the clothes and music; Mardian the eunuch and the band’s soprano voices are a particular treat for the ear.
Antony and Cleopatra makes for a wonderfully uplifting show of raucous parties and good old-fashioned war games. There is something hugely soothing in watching Shakespeare – the dramatic magnificence indulges the emotions with such luxury, and Antony and Cleopatra certainly doesn’t disappoint. Gratitude to Saul for allowing the show to go on.
Antony and Cleopatra is at the Globe Theatre until 24th August 2014, for further information or to book visit here.