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Posts Tagged ‘Sophie Okonedo’

This play was made for a stage like the Olivier and Simon Godwin’s excellent production, superbly designed by Hildegard Bechtler, makes great use of the space. Add in a set of great performances and you have a fine A&C.

It’s modern dress but feels timeless. They make great use of the revolve and drum to create some strikingly different settings from Rome to Alexandria and at sea. It starts tentatively, but when it gets into its stride it’s captivating, with the political & military and the relationships given equal attention and sitting comfortable together. Intimate scenes between Anthony and Cleopatra and battle scenes at sea and on land both work superbly, and Michael Bruce’s music adds much to the atmosphere.

Sophie Okonedo’s Cleopatra is very much in control, feisty and determined, but palpably in love with her man. She shows us many facets of Cleopatra in a passionate performance which swept me away. Ralph Fiennes has great presence as Anthony and also shows us a multi-faceted character who’s clearly torn between his loyalty to Rome and his love of Cleopatra, and when he’s with her he behaves like he’s the luckiest man in the world. There are so many fine performances around them that it’s impossible to mention them all; an excellent ensemble indeed.

When you have a bit of a Shakespeare habit, as I do, it’s rare to see something as fresh as this. Terrific.

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OK, so maybe I’m just thick, but I left this play thinking ‘so what is it you’re trying to say?’

Joe Pentall has written some good plays, amongst them the excellent Blue, Orange. Mental health is an issue he returns to often. In this play, husband / father Douglas disappears, seemingly for no reason. When he returns ,we discover he’s been with some sort of cult – or has he? He disappears again and when he returns this time he seems to be even more under the spell of an increasingly implausible group. His wife Julie is losing her tether and his son Thomas misses dad badly. It’s two hours before we discover the truth.

Sophie Okonedo is excellent and the young actor who played Thomas was terrific. Bunny Christie’s set is a perfectly realised family home, except the ceiling twice lowers mysteriously and somewhat pointlessly…. but what on earth the play is getting at is beyond me. I didn’t find it in the slightest bit illuminating, thought-provoking or even interesting. Ben Daniels seemed to be over-acting mercilessly, though in all fairness, I’m not sure how anyone could play Douglas believably.

Sadly, the Royal Court ends 2011 on a low. For me, a waste of an evening, I’m afraid.

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