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THEATRE REVIEW: Antony and Cleopatra, by William Shakespeare. National Theatre Live at South Holland Centre, Spalding




As much as amateur theatre is the lifeblood of English cities, towns and villages, nothing can replace London’s West End.

Three hours forty minutes quickly passed as Ralph Fiennes (Skyfall and The Grand Budapest Hotel) and Sophie Okonedo (Hotel Rwanda) teamed up in a Shakespearean epic that kept a South Holland Centre audience riveted on Tuesday night.

The twin threats of lust and liquor combined as Roman Empire ruler Antony’s affair with Cleopatra unfolded against a backdrop of war from a rival.

Sophie Okenedo (Cleopatra) and Ralph Fiennes (Antony) in National Theatre Live's Antony and Cleopatra at the National Theatre, London.Photo by Jason Bell.
Sophie Okenedo (Cleopatra) and Ralph Fiennes (Antony) in National Theatre Live's Antony and Cleopatra at the National Theatre, London.Photo by Jason Bell.

But when an arranged marriage between Antony and Caesar’s sister Octavia goes wrong, Antony makes Cleopatra joint ruler of his kingdom.

This brings Antony and Caesar into conflict, triggering a chain of events containing war, desertion and suicide.

If ever there was an advert for the National Theatre, as Fiennes, Okonedo and their supporting cast (especially Tim McMullan as Antony’s doomed ally Enobarbus), Antony and Cleopatra was it.

As Enobarbus said: "When valour preys on reason, it eats the sword it fights with."

Imaginative sets, immaculate costumes, ingenious scenery and thrilling theatre right on our doorstep in Spalding.

Review by Winston Brown


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