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"Antony and Cleopatra" @ The Globe

A year ago I sat my A level English Literature exam whereby I had to write an essay on a Shakespeare play. The play that was chosen by my teachers was Antony and Cleopatra, one of Shakespeare's more (I feel) under-appreciated tragedy's. When my friend Nicky and I decided we'd go to the Globe when I visited her, we saw Anton and Cleo was showing and I got very, very excited.

The thing about reading a play at A level, or GCSE, or at any level of education for that matter - even if you just simply read it for pleasure - is that to some extent you don't end up getting a visual sense of the characters. When one reads the lines of Cleopatra, one doesn't exactly picture how she delivers them, only how she could. One of the main reasons I was so excited to see this production was that Nicky and I had previously had the pleasure of seeing Eve Best as the Duchess of Malfi in John Webster's The Duchess of Malfi (Old Vic, 2012) and she had a certain way in which I could see her as Cleopatra.

We purchased our tickets well in advance and though we didn't know how the weather would be we shrugged and bought the groundling tickets since they're cheaper and we're not exactly well off. And yes, the whole of Tuesday 28th May it was pouring it down. However, that did not stop us standing out in the rain, adorned in rainmacs and ponchos and generally getting very wet.

It was one of the strangest experiences of my live because, picture this: standing outside in the middle of London, the floor flooded and the sound of rain drumming on your hood. You're cold. You're wet. But alas you cannot feel these things because of the spectacle in front of you; women and men dancing, incense, rugs, music... a sensory experience. There was no way I was feeling the cold or the rain with what was unfolding in front of me.

That's nothing to say of the acting and the very clever imagery. Eve Best and Phil Daniels (to name a couple) I'll get to but the colour imagery, the colour imagery! Red for Antony's followers, blue to Caesar's and white/gold for Cleopatra's. This in itself a striking mix. Add in the fact that Antony and Enobarbus wore purple, signifying their alliances and relationships with Caesar and you have an impressive display. Never before have I seen such a striking but simple use of colour in a play.

Now, Eve Best was just mind blowing. The way she performed was just... entrancing. As Cleopatra should be. She was intimidating and sweet, and beautiful and powerful... there are just too many words. Most poignant, though, was the deliverance of her soliloquies. The silence, people, THE SILENCE. If you ever imagine the atmosphere a Shakespeare soliloquy can create, multiply it by tonnes and then you've got the atmosphere in The Globe.

Phil Daniels delivered a Enobarbus that differed to how I imagined him. However, this does not detract from his power and commanding of the stage. Particularly his final soliloquy is poignant - I remember reading it in class and it blew my mind, I loved it. The fact that he then took that and made is something I had not previously imagined was brilliant.

Ultimately, I think you will understand, I adored this performance. I found it thrilling, and predominantly a completely new experience; the important part about seeing a Shakespeare play in this environment is that it recreates something, stirs something and completely enchants every single audience member - old and young. 


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