Northern Kentucky University’s Department of Theater and Dance premiered their rendition of the Shakespearean play “Antony and Cleopatra” on Thursday, December 1st in the Fine Arts Center’s Stauss Theater.
“Antony and Cleopatra” captured my attention and interest from the start with its suspenseful, tragic, and even comedic display of betrayal, love and power.
Shakespearean language can sometimes be hard to follow, but the play’s stars, seniors Simon Powell, who portrayed Antony, and Robyn Novak, who portrayed Cleopatra, as well as the rest of the cast, succeeded in embodying all that Shakespeare wanted “Antony and Cleopatra” to be.
Senior BFA- Acting major Bradley Jennings Evans, who played Octavius Caesar, said that this cast has one of the best work ethics of any other cast he has worked with. “We have all put a lot of work in to understanding the script and creating strong characters for the audience and hopefully that shows in the performance,” said Evans.
Though I sometimes got lost in the language, the 29 actors succeeded in portraying strong characters that kept me, as well as the rest of the audience, absorbed throughout the entire play.
Though the lead roles were clearly standout actors, the supporting roles also played their part in added more depth and dimension to the story.
“Honestly, my favorite characters were the supporting roles, and the comic relief from Lepidus,” said senior electronic media and broadcasting major Rachel Mannning. “I had several friends in the cast, and their appearance and mannerisms were completely transformed for the roles, and I barely recognized them.”
Reading a summary of the play would be beneficial to anyone who wants to view the performance, because it is easy to get lost in translation between the battle scenes.
Manning agreed that it sometimes gets confusing who is battling whom and who was on whose side. “Luckily, this wasn’t a huge problem because the story was obviously supposed to be focused on the titular couple,” said Manning.
Around 80 people were in attendance at the show on Friday, December 3 and all seemed just as captivated by the performance as I was. The crowd laughed, gasped, held our breath and watched in anticipation to see what the how the story would unfold.
Being in Stauss Theater, which is sometimes referred to as a black box theater, was the perfect performance space for this play. This theater is in a smaller room with the stage in the middle, surrounded by the audience, and black curtains drape each wall. This created a more intimate setting which allowed the audience to become completely engrossed in the performance.
When it comes to the set, lighting and design, the entire ambience was impressive. Manning said she loved it as well. “The suspended screens with the projected light patterns and the double-raked stage with contrasting floors brought a whole new level to the central clash between Rome and Egypt,” said Manning. “It juxtaposed the powers and set them physically higher, but it still brought the action down to the viewer’s level.”
With the stage in the middle being surrounded by the audience, there is really no bad seat in which to view the performance.
Evans also agrees that the technical elements of the show turned out beautifully, particularly the set, lights and costumes. “It helps add so much depth and finesse to the show, and it also helps paint the story for the audience as well,” said Evans.
Though I was disappointed that the show started a half hour late, I respected the decision to wait for family members of those in the cast to get there before beginning. The start time of the production was postponed due to traffic from an event at the Bank of Kentucky Center.
If you enjoy comedy, tragedy, suspense, betrayal, passion, and heartbreak, and most importantly, Shakespeare, then I recommend going to see director Mike King’s interpretation of “Antony and Cleopatra”.
The show will continue to run through December 11 in the Fine Art Center’s Stauss Theater. Show times are Monday through Saturday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. Ticket prices are $14 for adults, $11 for seniors and $8 for students and can be purchased at the NKU box office.