I was originally due to see this production, which stars Sophie Okonedo as Cleopatra, and Ralph Fiennes as Antony, early in its run, but I was unwell, so would up switching the ticket, and went at the weekend. It's a long time since I have seen a production of the play, in fact I think I've only seen it once before, with my school as it was one of my A-Level English texts.
This production was at the National, and had a modern setting, which meant that Egypt was all sunken pool, soft velvet-upholstered seating and the occasional sun lounger, and Rome features lots of sleek modern furniture, sculpture and fashion, with, once battle is joined, hi-tech military surveillance kit.
The production was very good, Sophie Okonedo and Ralph Fiennes as the titular couple are excellent. At the outset, Antony appears to be in full mid-life crisis mode, barefoot, dressed in Hawaiian shirt with beads. He appears totally besotted with Cleopatra, understandably enough. If there is a weakness in the production, it is perhaps that Fiennes never really shakes off that image, to become the powerful and successful general his reputation suggests.
|Set, at the end of Act 1|
Agrippa is played by Katy Stephens and having the role played by a woman adds an interesting slant to the character's relationships with Enobarbus (Tim McMullen) and with Caesar. And Caesar (Tunji Kasim) is presented as young, and inexperienced - very well done.
I did, I admit, feel a little sorry for Enobarbus,remaining loyal to Antony when good sense would suggest otherwise, before dying of a broken heart when his eventual betrayal is forgiven!
Oh, and a rel live snake. (although not, I think, and actual Asp. Method acting apparently has its limits!
The production is on until 19th Jan, and it was filmed and broadcast for NT Live so there may be encore showings if you fancy seeing it.