Director Tarell Alvin McCraney presents this radical, stripped down adaption of one of Shakespeare’s best loved plays transporting us to a world of 18th century imperialism.
Egypt becomes Haiti on the brink of a revolution, a country resisting the imposing empire as Caesar, donning Napoleonic attire, strives for world domination.
Just 10 actors are cast in various roles with many minor parts cut out of the play entirely in an attempt to deliver this tight two-and-a-half hour performance.
The basic themes of power struggles, passion and obsession are not entirely lost as Mark Antony’s love affair with the manipulative temptress Cleopatra inevitably leads to their downfall.
The play opens with a naked Cleopatra strolling into a Roman-style bath, luxurious drapes floating over giant pillars, accentuating sumptuous surroundings where the romance between Antony and the Egyptian queen has blossomed.
New York actress Joaquina Kalukango is a young, voluptuous, controlling Cleopatra.
She is more like a stroppy child than a queen of Egypt and occasionally difficult to understand with some of her speeches becoming a little lost.
Jonathan Cake is a decent bewitched and hedonistic Antony - his character the antithesis of Samuel Collings’ youthful, strait-laced and dispassionate Caesar.
But the relationship between Antony and Cleopatra was a little unconvincing. Antony’s reaction to the death of his first wife Fulvia carried more raw emotion than his response to Cleopatra’s apparent suicide and his constant stooping when embracing his mistress just looked uncomfortable.
At times the cast rattled through scene changes, making them confusing and the second part lacked the impact of the first.
The interludes of movement, dance and music which broke up the dialogue was enjoyable as was Chivas Michael, excellent as both Eros and eunuch Mardian, who delivered incredible vocals.
- Runs until November 30.