Saturday, April 14, 2018


Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Peter Evans
Bell Shakespeare
The Playhouse, Canberra Theatre Centre to 21 April

Reviewed by Len Power 13 April 2018

 Don’t expect lots of pomp and ceremony in Bell Shakespeare’s new production of ‘Antony and Cleopatra’.  This production presents these famous characters from ancient history as recognizably down-to-earth contemporary human beings.  Director, Peter Evans, cleverly gives us a through-the-keyhole look at how these people behave when they are not on show to the general public.  Behind the scenes like this is when the real political work is done.

The doomed love affair between Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt and Roman General, Mark Antony, plays out against ten years of political rivalry between the Roman triumvirate of Mark Antony himself, Octavius Caesar and Marcus Lepidus.  Shakespeare shows us how these powerful people make decisions but, at the same time, shows the character flaws that will influence those decisions and ultimately their destiny.

Catherine McClements and Johnny Carr
Cleopatra, as played by Catherine McClements, is a highly sophisticated, intelligent and witty person who is in no doubt about her position and power.  Mark Antony, played by Johnny Carr, struggles to keep up with her on every level.  We wonder what has brought them together and how long it can last.  Both performers give excellent portrayals of great strength and subtlety.  Johnny Carr is very effective in his display of emotional turmoil as Mark Antony’s world crashes around him.

Lucy Goleby is impressive as the powerful Pompey, Zinzi Okenyo is a strong and sophisticated Charmian and Gareth Reeves and Jo Turner give finely etched characterizations as the generals, Octavius and Lepidus respectively.  Ray Chong Nee is a fine Enobarbus and Ursula Mills as Octavia, Joseph Del Re as Menas, Steve Rodgers as Agrippa and Janine Watson as Alexas all give fine performances.

Left to Right: Lucy Goleby, Gareth Reeves, Zinzi Okenyo, Janine Watson and Catherine McClements
The production designer, Anna Cordingley, has produced an eye-catching modern set which creates the right atmosphere for this production and her stylish costumes for the cast have been well chosen.  The show has an excellent lighting design by Benjamin Cisterne and Max Lyandvert’s sound and music compositions complement the set and lighting very well.

Peter Evans has given us a production that breathes life into these ancient characters.  By making us close observers he gives us an insight into a world that is normally closed to us and makes it accessible and very entertaining as well.

Photos by Heidrun Lohr
Len Power’s reviews are also broadcast on Artsound FM 92.7 in his ‘On Stage’ performing arts program on Monday and Wednesday at 3.30pm.