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Antony & Cleopatra

Shakespeare's ancient Egypt brought to life in the centre of Oxford.
The Amphitheatre of Saïd Business School; Fri July 8th - Sat September 3rd 2011

July 19, 2011
Creation does the business at the Said.
It’s an Egyptian Tragedy, a Mediterranean Eastenders. You’ll know the story: boy meets girl; boy marries another girl; boy goes back to first girl; all hell breaks loose; and then girl meets snake.

Creation’s Antony and Cleopatra is a terrific version of one of Shakespeare’s richest plays, performed here in the original (edited) text. A ring of shattered columns sets the scene in the atmospheric Said amphitheatre. The cast starts with a superb raunchy dance sequence that they imbue with the energy and enthusiasm one expects in a Creation production. Cleopatra (Lizzie Hopley) sets out her stall and Antony (Tom Peters), dressed as a strumpet in high heels, is clearly under her spell. They can’t get enough of each other. However, Antony is already married to Flavia, who sadly and promptly dies off-stage. Antony returns to Rome for the funeral and cements an alliance with Caesar (Dominic Brewer) by marrying his sister, Octavia (Raewyn Lippert). Cleopatra is understandably jealous, but Antony can’t stay away from her and soon returns to Egypt. Cue ensuing tragedy.

Lizzie Hopley catches the femme fatale really well, for Cleopatra is a challenging role, and she succeeds in convincing us of the sexy queen’s changes of mood and internal conflicts: she is faithful and deceitful; and she is both commander and slave. Cleopatra is as obsessive about Antony as he is about her. Tom Peters matches Hopley'sperformance with Antony’s own big conflict, torn between political loyalty to Rome and his passion in Egypt. Peters convinces us that Antony has become a sad libertine, when he once was a great soldier and leader. They both manage to win our pity, even though their devotion is a long way from the adolescent love of your Romeo and Juliet.

Richard Kidd’s portrayal of Antony’s loyal friend Enobarbus is also very good. He is able to demonstrate his full range and comic timing to great effect in other smaller roles. In fact most members of the cast double or treble up, whilst still managing to keep up a fast pace with many changes of costume. It’s all kept beautifully under control by the talented director, Helen Tennison.

Creation has concocted yet another excellent outdoor production to enhance the summer cultural offer of the city. We are lucky to have such an innovative and talented local theatre company in Oxford.

Antony and Cleopatra is at the Said Business School Amphitheatre until 3rd September.
Well done Creation Theatre - another impressive production. I love Tom Peter's acting although as in the King James Bible production, find it difficult to hear his 'asides' - far too many of his lines are muttered, no doubt with excellent effect, if only I could hear. A bit frustrating to say the least. The Said Business School Amphitheatre is excellent although being on the rooftop had one disadvantage in that I became very aware of the air conditioning unit chugging away through much of the play - perhaps it could be shut down during the play? I'm being negative though - the play was well worth seeing and the rooftop has a magical atmosphere.
I'd say Mark Antony should take lessons from Octavian and project more for the last few performances. He was all but inaudible in the second half tonight (23rd August).
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