Theatre Review: Act One Presents Antony and Cleopatra

By Jasmine Snow

Recently, I had the pleasure of seeing one of William Shakespeare’s most haunting tragedies, Antony and Cleopatra. The show was performed at the Llanover Arts Centre by Act One, directed by Sophie Callery and produced by Daisy Leach. The performance perfectly captured the struggle between reason and emotion, but the 1920s setting left something to be desired.

The plot follows a triumvirate of three Roman Emperor rulers: Mark Antony, Octavius Caesar and Lepidus. While in Alexandria, Antony becomes captivated with the Queen of Egypt, Cleopatra. At the same time as the death of Antony’s wife Fulvia, the power of the triumvirate is being challenged by a senator Pompey, and therefore Antony is forced to take action which leads to disastrous consequences.

The set and Jazz music seemed to emulate the 1920s, however, to what effect I am unsure. The production lacked the swift, panoramic shifts in geographical locations that the play is known for. Nevertheless, the hair, make-up and costume choices were stunning and created an interesting contrast to the war backdrop. Cleopatra’s beautiful dresses, in particular, heightened the tragic denouement as she wept for Antony and eventually took her own life.

Each actor and actress is worth noting in this performance, but the standouts include Sam Whitworth and Vanessa Wolf in their harmonious portrayal of Antony and Cleopatra. Wolf’s performance, in particular, shone in her high-drama, volatile and charming portrayal of Cleopatra. Their performances were complimented nicely by Alec Cook as Enobarbus, whose comedic timing was impeccable. As well as Aaron Devine and Chris Brunskill, who played the other two triumvirs Octavius Caesar and Lepidus.

The first half of the play was amusing, clever and engaging, however, the pace fell short in the second half. Despite that, it is worth purchasing a ticket, due to the tremendous amount of time and effort put into the performance. Not to mention, the drinking scene between the three triumvirates and Pompey to celebrate their truce, which was very memorable.