Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Antony and Cleopatra at the RSC

See Antony and Cleopatra at Stratford with the RSC. This is in keeping with the gritty agenda to equip Shark, Squirrel and Tiger with an education of all the world, via Shakespeare.

I'm brave. The Guardian saw the best of things, the Independent didn't bother reviewing the play, and it had an 'utter dud' comment from Charles Spencer of the Daily Telegraph. Makes me wonder what axe he has to grind.

But it would be ungenerous to wonder about that axe. Or pick out, say, the sentence Jonathan Cake, who I always think of as Jonathan Beefcake because of the rippling musculature which he so often seems touchingly anxious to show off, since - for a maidenly Grit - grabbing an eyeful of the adorably handsome Jonathan Cake's rippling musculature was a particularly uplifting moment, and one worth cherishing; maybe she has gone over that scene in her mind a few times, couldn't say.

But could Charles be upset at how this Ant&Cleo is placed all wrong? Not in Egypt but Haiti? Eighteenth century at that, black vs white, French vs slaves.

Agreed, it is odd, but this open-minded family approached it as if it was a good idea - Julius Caesar was set in Africa, and that worked brilliantly. And it provided an opportunity for this lot of smug bastard home educators to swot up on eighteenth-century Haiti, so who's complaining?

Okay, after doing that, I didn't feel the parallels stood up to a great deal of scrutiny, so I stuck to wittering on to the kids about colonialism and how setting it under the French rule made for a great costume opportunity, what with gold dangly epaulets and tight britches.

The performance itself was sound but somehow not exceptional; Cleo was all sex rather than politics, Ant was a great swaggering, winking creation from Stringfellows, and Octavius was appropriately cold-hearted, insincere, and downright mean.

Shark, Squirrel and Tiger liked it, gave it 8/10, but I have a feeling it's one which will fade into Grit's middle grey, except for Chukwudi Iwuji, the way it was set in eighteenth-century Haiti, and Jonathan Cake's rippling musculature.

But I'm glad they set it in a hot country. Howabout Aboriginal Australia, say in the middle of a hot, hot summer, just as Jonathan Cake has to go native?

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