A
 
Web www.artsmart.co.za
A R T S M A R T
arts news from kwazulu-natal

drama
www.artsmart.co.za
enquiries@artsmart.co.za
KZNPO advert DTA advert .
See also our Classified ads
 

NB: as of 23 September 2008, all new artSMart articles are being published on the site news.artsmart.co.za.

ANTONY & CLEOPATRA - REVIEW (article first published : 1999-09-15)

Appearing at the Elizabeth Sneddon Theatre as part of the University of Natal’s drama department’s 50th anniversary festivities is a production of Antony and Cleopatra directed by Themi Venturas.

Forming a major component of the show is the large video screen centre stage which, when in operation, turns the acting area into a kind of war room or the control centre of a villain in a James Bond movie. Messages in e-mail provide important information and vox pop clips all represent a clever way to avoid employing a large cast which the budget may not be able to accommodate.

The soothsayer is represented by an online computer tarot card service and well-known radio/TV presenters Darryl Ilbury and Dawn Spencer cover the war between Anthony and Octavius over a background of clips from international war zones on RNN (Roman News Network, what else?). Thus Themi has made his production right up to date in terms of technology in order to appeal to pupils studying the play.

Belinda Harwood puts in a superb performance as the complex and whimsical Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, accustomed to ruling without opposition and to using her considerable feminine wiles to achieve her ends. In Antony, she meets her sexual equal and between them they create as much havoc between their respective countries as they do between their glorious purple velvet sheets!

Michael Gritten is consistently strong and believable as Antony – the hero captain who forsakes his sovereign, career and reputation for his obsession with Cleopatra. While his Antony is swashbuckling and physical, he is beset by insecurity and ever-ready to doubt his beloved.

Patrick Collyer’s knowledge and understanding of Shakespeare is evident in his honest portrayal of Enobarbus who is forced to stand by and watch his friend and superior officer’s degeneration with alarm and concern until his conscience gets the better of him and he deserts.

Themi Venturas combined about 13 characters into The Roman, coolly and efficiently played by Katherine Farren and had Karen Campbell-Gillies doubling as Cleopatra’s handmaiden Iras and soldier Eros who is faced with the decision of executing Antony at his own request. Belinda Henwood was a gentle Charmian and Hamish Kyd showed a hitherto unseen dramatic maturity as Cleopatra’s slave.

Mzwandile Kamang cuts a powerful and impressive figure as the manipulative Octavius but his dialogue was often indistinct. Krijay Govender was elegant and controlled as the deceived Octavia and Don Dyke-Wells gave a delightfully befuddled rendering of Lepidus in the marriage celebration scene although the character could have been a little more robust

Bev Fuller’s costume designs were imaginative and worked well. She dressed Cleopatra and her handmaidens initially in a series of skin-tones, perhaps hinting at the pleasures of the flesh enjoyed at the Egyptian court. Particularly stunning was a dark burgundy outfit for Cleopatra with tie-dyed/batik leotard with a chiffon skirt. I did, however, have a problem in accepting the fact that Cleopatra, apparently naked in one bed scene, emerges securely clad in a wrap-around sheet without us ever having seen her put it on!

The stage design by Peter Court is effective with three large blocks representing anything from a table or a bed to a rampart from which to address the troops. The lighting design and effects were impressive, particularly a smoky scene reminiscent of a sauna where the handmaidens are anointing Cleopatra’s prone body.

The programme, which takes the form of a publication titled The Daily Shakespeare, offers relevant information regarding the play as well as insight into the director’s reasoning in terms of editing and casting. The video production was sponsored by Reeltime and Dawn and Barry Thompson composed two main themes for the play which were recorded at Strawberry Fields Studio engineered by Brian McFall. This production apparently marks the beginnings of the formation of a professional Shakespeare Company that is to mount an annual production of the Bard’s work.

Shows are mainly for schools daily at 09h00 and 11h30 (tickets R17) but there are public performances on September 18 and 25 (14h00). Tickets R35. To book phone Nothando on 201-9242 or 201-9894.


 A current news
crafts
dance
festivals
drama
film & tv
literature
music
supper theatre
visual arts
miscellaneous

leisuresmart
letters to the editor

classified ads

 A archives
crafts
dance
drama
festivals
film & tv
literature
music
supper theatre
visual arts
miscellaneous

letters

home page


a co-production by caroline smart services and .durbanet. site credits
copyright © subsists in this page. all rights reserved. [ edit ] copyright details  artsmart