Antony and Cleopatra
There was no fire and air in this production, which could best be described as “heavy” The lighting effects were beautiful, and too obvious, the music suffocatingly romantic and dripping harp arpeggios. And the poor actors. In costumes by Elizabeth Covey they were either half naked or weighted down with bulk. Paul Shenar, so lithe as Oberon, tripped over a stool and stumbled several times, apparently because of an unmanageable red cloak. Never have I seen a production so over blocked. Minor characters were kept busy slinking around to form dramatic stage pictures. Now the Eunuch drapes himself against a post. Now Enobarbus lounges on the stairs. It was like the children’s game of “Statues.” New cue, everyone move and freeze into the next pose. Passion was exhibited in three ways: heavy breathing, clenched fists, or sinking slowly to the knees. Some characters were up and down like yo-yos. With all of these physical problems, it is not surprising that the language was almost totally lost, and characters never able to come to life. One doesn’t demand infinite variety from Cleopatra, but a little variety, any at all, would have been welcome. Michael Learned was beautiful, regal, and as coolly aloof as Nefertiti’s mask. I never felt she cared two cents for Antony. She was in love with an idealized hero, but more in love with the idea of her own dramatic death. Miss Learned’s characterization was perfect for Act V, but the high pitch had been sustained from her first scene and grew wearying. It fit her character perfectly that she was able to die sitting straight up. Ken Ruta as Antony was colorless in the early scenes, but gained force later on, something which cannot be said for Alan Fudges dull Enobarbus.
KeywordsInfinite Variety Minor Character Death Scene Roman World Street Drama
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