Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Grading Cleopatra

It seems that the Geller Weinbergers and the Willis Weinbergers went to entirely different performances of Antony and Cleopatra last night at Shakespeare & Company last night. David gave it a C minus (see his blog) and really didn’t like Tina Packer as Cleopatra; Nathan was disappointed, especially by the slo mo dance battles, which I found moving. Nathan gave it a C. Ann gave it a B minus and Andy refused to grade, but said it liked it. I agreed it was talky and static, (and for that reason it seemed appropriate that the battles were dance battles in slow motion), and I think it truly is in large part Shakespeare’s fault. I also agreed I suppose that Tina was too old, especially in the beginning when she’s kittenish, and then she becomes just teasing and with rather the style of an aging diva, but finally she convinced me, both of the performance it would be to be a queen, but also of how the character embraces being a legend, and stands up to become what she has been made and made herself. The love affair seems almost beside the point- and the history is, of course, assumed. What I took from this is that it is about being more than a normal sexual petty ambitious demanding or even brave person. It’s about being Great, or trying to be. Both Cleopatra and Antony (not to mention Octavius) are pretty unlikable. Somehow the play seems to me to be about creating your own immortality.

The most interesting question to me is why the five of us reacted so strongly differently: now David and Ann and Nathan had just been to see Midsummer Night’s Dream with a lot of the same players taking different parts, and they adored Dream, and I have to wonder that the fact Andy and I saw it weeks ago and weren’t really remembering the various actors from that– the mechanical who played Thisbe, for example, was brave warlike young Pompey here.
Antony and Cleopatra , much studied and not so much played, is a tough play, though. I was uplifted by Cleopatra’s rise out of spoiled (in many senses) sex kitten to bravely dying.

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