2. Art deco duel

The Tribune (NZ) - - News - RICHARD MAYS

Kather­ine Lyons as Oc­tavia, Bruce Sin­clair as Antony with Si­mon Herbert as Oc­tavius in the 1920s styled Antony and Cleopa­tra open­ing at Te Manawa this Thurs­day.

Salad days and win­ter don’t nor­mally go to­gether. How­ever, the source of the say­ing ‘‘salad days’’, a ref­er­ence to youth­ful fresh­ness and in­ex­pe­ri­ence from a play by Wil­liam Shake­speare, is about to bloom at Te Manawa.

The Bard’s tragedy Antony and Cleopa­tra is set dur­ing the es­tab­lish­ment of the Ro­man Em­pire. Based on the his­tor­i­cal char­ac­ters of Ro­man gen­eral and tri­umvir Mark Antony, and Cleopa­tra last pharaoh of Egypt, it opens for seven per­for­mances on Thurs­day night.

Joy Green’s Prop­erjob pro­duc­tions is fol­low­ing the suc­cess­ful mid-win­ter Shake­speare pre­sen­ta­tions of Globe Award win­ning Julius Cae­sar in 2013 and last year’s Othello, with a third play set in Te Manawa. As with the pre­vi­ous two shows, Joy has taken a non-tra­di­tional ap­proach by set­ting what she calls ‘ Romeo and Juliet for adults amidst the flap­pers and gang­sters, speak-eas­ies, jazz and pro­hi­bi­tion era of the Roar­ing 20s.

To­gas are out, fe­do­ras and fas­ci­na­tors are in. Rome trans­forms into New York, Alexandria be­comes the state of Mis­sis­sippi, while the re­bel­lious Pom­pey’s strong­hold of Si­cily is now Chicago.

‘‘It’s later Down­ton Abbey. The aim is to make it look pretty on a lim­ited bud­get. The cos­tumes are gor­geous with art deco set and pe­riod fur­ni­ture to fit the deca­dence and glam­our of the age.’’

The story sees Antony, be­sot­ted with the queen of Egypt, ne­glect­ing his du­ties as one of the three men rul­ing Rome fol­low­ing the as­sas­si­na­tion of Julius Cae­sar, and find­ing him­self at odds with the other two, Lepidus and Oc­tavius – the fu­ture Au­gus­tus Cae­sar, first em­peror of Rome.

The po­lit­i­cal cir­cum­stances cou­pled with the over-wrought af­fair have tragic con­se­quences for both Antony and his lover. Know­ing that Cleo kills her­self with an asp, those with a pho­bia about ser­pents need have no fear. Snakes are not al­lowed in New Zealand, and as Joy reck­ons there’s noth­ing more falselook­ing than a rub­ber snake, the ser­pent be­comes a metaphor for an over­dose of heroin or co­caine, and is quite in keep­ing with the spirit of the age.

As Antony is multi-Globe award­win­ning ac­tor Bruce Sin­clair who played the Earl of Glouces­ter in the Sum­mer Shake­speare pro­duc­tion of King Lear, was Fa­gin in last year’s Oliver! and Julius Cae­sar in 2013. In that dis­tinc­tive re­verse gen­der pro­duc­tion he played along­side Sasha Lip­in­sky’s con­spir­a­to­rial Kay Cas­sius. This time, Sasha lands another lead­ing role as Cleopa­tra, queen of Egypt. The ex­pe­ri­enced cast in­cludes Paul Lyons, Si­mon Herbert and Danny Good­man

Prop­erjob’s pro­duc­tion of Antony and Cleopa­tra opens this Thurs­day, July 9 at Te Manawa and runs un­til July 18 with per­for­mances at 7.30pm, and a 2pm mati­nee on Sun­day, July 12. Tick­ets are $15 waged, $10 un­waged; book­ings through jb.green@massey.ac.nz

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PHOTO: WAR­WICK SMITH/FAIR­FAX NZ

Sasha Lip­in­sky plays Cleopa­tra to Bruce Sin­clair’s Antony in a 1920s-styled pro­duc­tion of Wil­liam Shake­speare’s Antony and Cleopa­tra which opens at Te Manawa on Thurs­day 9.

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