Antony and Cleopatra | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Performing Arts Review

Antony and Cleopatra

by

Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe

comment

Antony and Cleopatra, Shakespeare Machine, at the Performance Loft. There's nothing wrong with a stripped-down production of Shakespeare using a small cast--provided the actors are up to the challenge of multiple roles. That's a problem in Jason Cornwell's staging of Antony and Cleopatra. The other is his relentless rapid-fire pacing. That and his six actors' limited vocal skills result in flat renditions of the play's loveliest poetic passages. It's also sometimes hard to follow the story since so much of the action involves offstage characters: if we miss a name, we miss a plot development.

As the title characters, David Skvarla and Brandi Harrison never convey the steamy attraction between the Roman soldier and the Egyptian queen. Harrison in particular is curiously contained when she should be operatic, as in the scene when she threatens the life of a messenger for bringing tidings of Antony's marriage to Octavia. Though Antony gets top billing, it's Cleopatra who runs the show--and Harrison just doesn't have the regal fire for that.

Cornwell wisely opts to seat the cast on the periphery of the playing area, underscoring how addicted these lovers are to playing out their passions in public. But most of the script's nuances and subtext are sacrificed: apparently Cornwell takes the "machine" part of the company's moniker far too literally.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment