Catherine Mcclements plays Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra
According to Catherine Mcclements, watching
Antony and Cleopatra is a little like watching a Princess Diana documentary, glimpsing a life where love collided with politics. “Shakespeare is taking these big moments from history and showing how everything was behind closed doors.” The Egyptian queen is understood to have been a fierce leader and is believed to have killed herself by compelling an asp to bite her breast. It’s that extraordinary story that enticed Mcclements – a celebrated stage and screen actor – to return to Shakespeare 14 years after she last encountered the Bard in Belvoir’s
Macbeth. Although her casting in this Bell Shakespeare production was met with excitement in theatrical circles, Cleopatra wasn’t necessarily a role the actor had longed to play. “I don’t think any female Shakespeare character is necessarily on the wishlist,” she says. “They’re troubling and tricky to pull off, but they’re also famous and you just always want to give it a go... Someone once said that Shakespeare is like actors’ heroin. It’s sort of true; it’s not necessarily good for you, but god, it’s addictive.” The one thing I admire most about Cleopatra: “She’s able to rip herself out of the myth and create her own future.” Òarts Centre Melbourne, 100 St Kilda Rd, Melbourne 3004. 1300 182 183. www.artscentremelbourne.com.au. $40-$92. Apr 26-May 13.
Catherine Mcclements in Antonyandcleopatra