Skip to main content

Antony and Cleopatra

Botanic Gardens, Glasgow
Four Stars

From the moment the somewhat seasoned lovers romp on the chaise longue at one end of the Kibble Palace, alpha-male privilege abounds in Bard in the Botanics’ fresh take on one of Shakespeare’s most grown-up plays that forms part of the company’s Star Cross’d Lovers season. Andy Clark’s Antony is a man who simply can’t stop conquering. Shirking every responsibility he’s got while off the leash abroad, his mid-life crisis ego trip finds him playing away to the max.

Cleopatra too has got her second emotional wind and is going for it big time by way of epic mood-swings that are are a heady mix of passion and needy insecurity. Cooper’s Cleopatra all but whoops on learning of the death of Antony’s (third) wife Fulvia, even though it’s this incident that puts nations as well as hearts at stake. If Antony wants his cake as well as eating it when he marries Octavius Caesar’s kid sister Octavia, it’s international diplomacy as much as conjugal rights that are doomed.

With director Gordon Barr’s adaptation stripped down to accommodate a cast of eight, such a relatively minimal approach allows the political ramifications of the central romance to breathe unencumbered by assorted entourages. Clark and Cooper are perfect foils here, with Clark’s charismatic roughshod swagger a sinewy counterpoint to Cooper’s vivacious intelligence. There is some fine sparring elsewhere too, with the confrontation between Cleopatra and Leonora Cooke’s Octavia a searing insight of what happens when the scorned wife meets the other woman.

There is fine support too from Adam Donaldson as a flintily driven Octavius. But it is Cooper’s Cleopatra who goes from strength to strength here. She seems to grow in stature even as she makes the grandest of gestures in this ferocious study of a world-changing affair.

The Herald, May 25th 2018


Ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Futureproof 2017

Street Level Photoworks, Glasgow until February 4th 2018
Four stars

Now in its ninth year, Futureproof's showcase of recent graduate photographers from seven Scottish art schools and universities returns to its spiritual home at Street Level, with nineteen artists embracing photo essays, abstraction and constructed narratives. It is Karlyn Marshall's Willies, Beuys and Me that grabs you first. Tucked in a corner, this depiction of a woman impersonating iconic artist Joseph Beuys says much about gender stereotyping, and recalls Manfred Karge's play, Man to Man, in which a German woman took on her dead husband's identity.

The personal and the political converge throughout. Ben Soedera's Foreign Sands contrasts natural resources and the constructed world. Gareth and Gavin Bragdon's The Bragdon Brothers moves onto the carnivalesque streets of Edinburgh. Kieran Delaney's Moments also looks at the apparently ordinary. Matthew Buick goes further afield, as tourists…

The Maids

Dundee Rep

Two sisters sit in glass cases either side of the stage at the start of Eve Jamieson's production of Jean Genet's nasty little study of warped aspiration and abuse of power. Bathed in red light, the women look like artefacts in some cheap thrill waxworks horror-show, or else exhibits in a human zoo. Either way, they are both trapped, immortalised in a freak-show possibly of their own making.

Once the sisters come to life and drape themselves in the sumptuous bedroom of their absent mistress, they raid her bulging wardrobe to try on otherwise untouchable glad-rags and jewellery. As they do, the grotesque parody of the high-life they aspire to turns uglier by the second. When the Mistress returns, as played with daring abandon by Emily Winter as a glamour-chasing narcissist who gets her kicks from drooling over the criminal classes, you can't really blame the sisters for their fantasy of killing her.

Slabs of sound slice the air to punctuate each scene of Mart…

Bdy_Prts

Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh
Saturday December 2nd


It should probably come as no surprise that professional dancers are in the audience for the Edinburgh leg of this mini tour by spectral performance art/pop auteurs Bdy_Prts on the back of the release of their sublime debut album, The Invisible Hero. Beyond the music, the raison d’etre of Bdy_Prts’ dynamic duo of Jill O'Sullivan and Jenny Reeve, after all, is a flamboyantly costumed display of kinetic physical jerks and modernist shape-throwing to illustrate a set of fizzing machine-age chorales.

In this sense, the Bdy_Prts live experience is several works of art for the price of one that's a long way from the pair's formative work fronting Sparrow and the Workshop (O'Sullivan) and Strike the Colours (Reeve). Part living sculptures, part Bloomsbury Group super-heroines, part widescreen pop fabulists, O'Sullivan and Reeve paint their faces with ancient symbols and sport customised shoulder pads that look both seasonally …