ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA presented by Northern Kentucky University through Dec. 11. You can read the show description here.
NKU Theater and Dance takes on, and mostly succeeds, with an ambitious production of this Shakespeare drama. If you plan on attending, you can read the play’s synopsis on Wikipedia to better follow the plot.
Upon entering the Stauss Theatre audience members are greeted by a huge double-raked set, designed by Mark Halpin. One side marbled to represent Rome and the other sand-colored and covered in hieroglyphs to represent Egypt. Also impressive is the Roman seal and the raise-able platform dominating opposing ends of the set. A few times, group entrances on one side of the stage were a bit distracting to the scene on the opposite end.
The hard-working cast of 29 does well in maintaining focus and energy throughout the production. With such a large cast, it’s hard to comment on everyone individually.
Overall good work from the leads. A few small observations: I enjoyed the intensity Simon Powell brought to Marc Anthony, but I would have liked to see a little more emotional range. Good emotion and delivery from Bradley Jennings Evans as Octavius Caesar, but he tended to “freeze” during conversations when you weren’t speaking. As Cleopatra, Robyn Novak seemed, at times, to allow her character’s histrionics to cross over into the comedic. Also I thought the portrayal of Cleopatra’s serving maids (Carey Parsons as Charmian and Monica M. Weber as Iras) would have benefited from a bit more grounding in their position as servants. At times they seemed a bit like sorority sisters. There was also some awkwardness in the physical contact between Mark Anthony and Cleopatra during one of their first scenes together.
Good, solid work from Seth Wallen as Enorbarbus. Also some great moments in smaller roles which included Jordan K. Pruitt as Eros in his death scene with Marc Anthony and Cynthea Mercado as Seleucus, Cleopatra’s treasurer.
Costumes constructed for the production (designed by Gretchen Vaughn) were successful for the most part. I can’t say I was a fan of the hooded Roman costume. I would have liked to see some color on Caesar’s initial costume, perhaps some gold fabric or accessories, to break up the white. Also if some adjustments could be made to Decretas’ costume to allow the actor to navigate stairs hands-free.
Overall, a job well-done on a huge undertaking.
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