“The stroke of death is as a lover's pinch
Which hurts and is desired.”
Since finishing Julius Caesar last fall during the 24-hour Readathon, I have been anxious to read Antony and Cleopatra. This play, while not a "sequel," does talk about what happens to the Roman empire after the death of Julius Caesar. In this new Rome, it is ruled by three men: Antony, Octavius Caesar, and Lepidus.
However, Antony has been cavorting and canoodling with Cleopatra in Egypt, so he has been a bit out of the loop. Things have taken a turn as Lepidus has started to push out and abuse his power. Antony must return to Rome to set things right with Caesar. This is where the play derives its plot and set things in motion. Antony and Caesar form an alliance, but the relationship with Cleopatra complicates Antony's decisions.
The last chunk of the play recounts the deaths of both Cleopatra and Antony, as well as how Rome was reunited under Caesar to start anew. Of course there is more to it in between all that, but I can't give away everything, right?
It certainly sounds interesting, but I wasn't as into this play as I thought it would be. One of my biggest peeves was how...spread out the play seemed. This is really the first play by Shakespeare where the action is spread out over a long period of time...and it is noticeable. There were small scenes interspersed into the play where a character or two seemed to "sum up" what was going on with the battles and war between the three rulers. I was a little bit...annoyed with these scenes. I am used to the fast-paced action of Shakespeare's plays, where they usually take place in the matter or days or weeks. Not months.
The best part of the play, however, was Cleopatra. Shakespeare portrays her as a witty, passionate woman. You could tell that she really loved Antony and her people. Her aims were to love him and to love her people. She made decisions for the good of Egypt and herself.
I loved the banter with Antony in the beginning when they were still together. I also loved the degree of her temper when learns about some of Antony's "betrayals." I think I would have gotten along well with her. :)
In all, while Antony and Cleopatra was an enjoyable play, there were bits and pieces that simply didn't work for me. I think it is a play that is overshadowed by some of the others before it, like Julius Caesar.
“That truth should be silent I had almost forgot."
For those of you who have read this one, what did you think? Did I miss a big part of it?
I'm sorry that Anthony&Cleopatra didn't live up to your expectations. I haven't read it yet and considering this review it will definitely not be one of my next Shakespeares.ReplyDelete
Anyway, I guess if you write 38 plays not all of them can be mind-blowing... Probability calculation and so on ;)
Good point! It was just a bit too broad in scope for me to really like it!Delete
This isn't a play that I've ever read, but I saw the RSC production a few years back with Patrick Stewart and I was surprised by how funny it was! I would never have expected it to be a black comedy, but that's how they played it and it really worked. It's probable that some of the parts you found more tedious were cut, but that happens even in the more evenly great plays. It's worth seeing performed if you ever get the chance.ReplyDelete
Interesting...I will definitely see it if I can. I think this is one of the plays that I would probably love if I saw it. It just didn't translate well with reading it.Delete
I haven't read it. I do have Julius Caeser ready to pick up at the library. Sounds like I'm glad I chose that one and not Antony and Cleopatra.ReplyDelete
Julius Caesar is much more condensed, which I really liked. The action stays close together and isn't spread out over a big expanse of time.Delete
I've read a bit of Anthony and Cleopatra, I think where Cleopatra says sad things about Anthony being dead? So, that was good, but I can see how it being spread out over time could make it lose some of its drama and stuff. YAY for an awesome female though! I've just read The Taming of the Shrew, so Shakespeare isn't really winning any sexual equality points with me right now- so I should probably read this, huh?ReplyDelete
Oh, I love Taming of the Shrew! I know that it is a bit sexist, but I love it anyway. :)Delete
Cleopatra is an amazing character. She is by far the best part of this play!
This one actually sounds fascinating to me. I have read Julius Caesar (once). I barely remember it and know nothing about Antony and Cleopatra. I don't own this one so won't be reading it this year, but definitely eventually.ReplyDelete
I think it is definitely worth a read! I think I would prefer seeing it though-I think I would get more out of it.Delete
I've been thinking of reading this one since the first time you mentioned it. (Was that way back around the time of the readathon?) It's a bit of a bummer to know that it's not as good as some of the others, but Cleopatra really sounds intriguing. It's interesting to me that a male writer of Shakespeare's era would write what sounds like a such a strong female character. I can't wait to see for myself!ReplyDelete
I've been meaning to read this one for a while, but I don't think I'll make it before the end of the month. Le sigh.ReplyDelete
Oh well, it sounds like a nice play, albeit not spectacular. Cleopatra seems to be a very interesting character, and I love the time period the play is set.
I don't know much about classical history so I know little about the historic Antony and Cleopatra. But I can understand your frustration about how "spread out" it seemed. Good way to put it. The Henry VI plays were similar. The first part was about 20 years. Weird.ReplyDelete
Shakespeare has played a lot with time and history in this one. But I really like the play for its political intrigue. What stands out for me in the play is the character of Enobarbus, who was an entirely original creation of Shakespeare.. I would definitely give Shakespeare's genius some credit for that.ReplyDelete