REVIEW: Anthony and Cleopatra, Chichester Festival Theatre

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AS EXPECTED, Kim Cattrall dazzled as Cleopatra, but, unfortunately, this version of the iconic tragedy was just not convincing enough.

We first see her rising from the floor in a golden mask and cloak – Cattrall’s Cleopatra is blonde and dramatic.

In Shakespeare’s tragedy, the Egyptian queen is in love with Mark Antony who is starting to lose his grip on power. However, their love conflicts with affairs of state.

For a story all about the central pair’s connection, I was disappointed their performances were actually better individually than they were together.

And where was the chemistry between them?

Michael Pennington’s Antony barely conveyed any passion or desire for Cleopatra – it all seemed far too manufactured for me.

But, Pennington turned Shakespeare’s words to poetry, and ensured the plot was easy to follow, while Cattrall made great, energetic, command of stage. There were also some fun, comic interactions between Cleopatra and members of her court – Harmage Singh Kalirai and Offue Okegbe.

The best performance, though, was that of Martin Hutson, with his sharp and witty portrayal of Octavius Caesar.

And, as always at CFT, I’m in awe of the clever set design. This time, a very simple set that moved fluently between Egypt, signalled by beautiful oriental lamps, and a dark brick wall for Rome.

The production, while entertaining, lacked depth and chemistry meaning it didn’t quite achieve a sense of tragedy,

The show runs until Saturday (September 28) and is last hurrah for Chichester Festival Theatre, before it closes for an 18-month refurbishment.

By Sarah Dale.