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Theater review: 'Antony and Cleopatra' at A Noise Within

March 8, 2012 | 11:40 am

Antony and cleopatra
Watching Shakespeare’s “Antony and Cleopatra” at A Noise Within, one is reminded of Dame Edna Everage’s observation, “Color and movement is what they like.” In their kaleidoscopic staging, co-directors Geoff Elliott and Julia Rodriguez-Elliott provide color and movement in abundance.  And like it we do.

“Antony and Cleopatra” is ranked by some scholars among Shakespeare’s “problem plays.” And considering the bizarre fusion of the humorous and the tragic, that’s understandable.  But even more than the tonal irregularities, the lightning locale shifts would daunt a World War II field marshal.

Rodriguez-Elliott and Elliott, who also plays Antony, overcome all challenges with military efficiency. Navigating Tom Buderwitz’s vertiginous set, replete with sky-high walkways and metal towers, requires fortitude –- acrophobes need not apply. And for added breathlessness, there are those armored soldiers who soar over the audience’s heads on modified zip lines, right into the thick of battle.

Ken Booth’s magnificent lighting, in concert with Angela Balogh Calin’s vivid costumes, transform Cleopatra’s court into a butterfly grove, with the sumptuously attired Cleopatra as the reigning monarch. Susan Angelo, an eleventh-hour replacement in the role, shines in a sinuous turn.

Moving with appropriately serpentine grace, her peevish, passionate Cleopatra is the perfect foil for Elliott’s richly layered Antony, a Roman soldier dangerously besotted with his muse. The two capture the humor of Shakespeare’s aging diva and lecherous lion without cheapening the pathos of their ultimate fates. 

A miscasting or two pass largely unnoticed in this large and excellent cast.  Robertson Dean is particularly fine as Enobarbus, Antony’s aide, ultimately led astray by self-interest, much like his deeply flawed commander.

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-- F. Kathleen Foley

“Antony and Cleopatra,” A Noise Within, 3352 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena.  In repertory. $42-$46.  Ends May 13.  (626) 356-3100, Ext. 1  www.ANoiseWithin.org. Running time: 2 hours, 50 minutes.

Photo: Susan Angelo and Geoff Elliott. Credit: Craig Schwartz

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