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ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA

REVIEWS
May 17, 2001

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
at the Knightsbridge Theatre

Reviewed By Polly Warfield - Backstage West

Tiger Reel, an ingenious, inventive director who is well named, cuts the four hours of Shakespeare's sprawling, verbose masterpiece to about two and a half, distributes 30-plus characters among 18 actors, highlights its high points, pinpoints its timelessness, and, rightly I think, wastes little energy on the first act's opaque talk, talk, talk. Rather, he orchestrates and choreographs it with music and action to give it bounce and beat. The dialogue is there, but it is embellished with nubile dancers reeling and writhing like houris in a harem, scenes of sadomasochism, and haunting and ululating wails of Middle-Eastern song, so you hardly notice.

Here's a Cleopatra such as you may never have seen or imagined. This sleek sophisticate, this blue-eyed blonde with chic, close-cropped coiffure and clever little black dress that takes awhile to activate its seduction (or the gold dagger in its belt)‹can this be the fabled Queen of the Nile, "morsel for monarchs," Egypt incarnate? Well, yes. Petrea Burchard's Cleo, who conceals a wildcat beneath her silken surface, is a different Cleo, but her own.

Can this be Antony, intrepid warrior, legendary lover, virile, handsome, fun-loving playboy of the Mediterranean world? You bet your life. Lightly bearded, zestful Russell Copley fills the bill. What a guy! How magnificently he plays his climactic scene when news (though false) of Cleopatra's death makes this strong man weep.

If Antony and Cleopatra, there's got to be a Caesar. Though the program lists him only as Octavius, don't let it confuse you‹nor that Adam Hunter Howard, who plays him, more resembles the big man on campus than the mighty monarch of the Roman Empire, commander of black-clad fascist legions. It's right there in the text, when Cleopatra calls him "scarce-bearded Caesar." He's only 23, and no match for Antony.

Notable standouts among the big, rambunctious cast include Keith Edie, outrageous and vulnerable as glitterlips Mardian, Cleo's gussied-up eunuch. Cleo abuses him terribly when he brings her bad news of Antony's marriage of convenience to Caesar's sister, prim and proper Octavia (Ellen Marie Andrews). Imperious Cleo beats poor Mardian unmercifully; at very close range we note what excellent fight choreography director Reel, choreographer Lesley Alicia Tye, and the actors provide. Among many gorgeous dancing girls none are more so than Shelby Janes, who doubles as the all-seeing Soothsayer. Suyun Kim is a knockout, too. Mary Morrissey and Thia Stephan are Cleo's loyal handmaidens. Matthew St. James impresses as bald-pated warrior Enobarbus with a roving eye. Justin Gorence's Pompey, in black leather pants, bare torso, tattoos, and a bandana that can't keep the hair out of his eyes, comes on with impressive biceps and pecs, like the pirate (or hippie) he is.

Reel sets the Bard's "romantic political thriller" in a sonic landscape much enhanced by "beatmaster" Chris Covics' percussion design and Kyle Walls' drumming. Vicki Conrad's eclectic costumes are stunning, as is Tye's choreography. It's not your average Antony and Cleopatra, but it's a blast.

"Antony & Cleopatra­The Remix," presented by and at the Knightsbridge Theatre Pasadena, 35 S. Raymond, Pasadena. Sat. 5 p.m., Sun. 6 p.m. May 12-June 10. $12-18. (626) 440-0821.

 

Santa Monica Playhouse
Santa Monica Group Theatre
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"A total theatre experience!" L.A. Times

Now in its 38th year the Santa Monica Playhouse provides the finest in Theatre entertainment and theatre related workshops to the Los Angeles area and, through our International programs, to the world

Dear Friends,
I am happy to announce that we will extend this show til July 1st. We are no longer doing Sunday Matinee's, only Friday & Saturday nights. The shows are May 26 & 27 -June 2 & 3, 23 & 24, 30 & July 1 will be our
closing night. We will have no shows June 9 & 10 or June 16 & 17, as Theatre/Theater had a previous booking. The BCT 2 for 1 coupons are good for all shows except Friday June 23rd, as it is our 50th performance, which is Benefit to raise funds to remount the show in the Fall during Football season, with Advertising. We put all   our money into keeping the show open, hindsight is clearly 20/20. All the information is below and please try to come to the 'after show' party if you have seen the show or are in a show, as I will be spinning some fine
tunes and would love to have you celebrate with us as we have been running since February, no small task.
You are Invited to the 50th Performance of Serious Games  “Hilarious…laugh out loud production”-Los Angeles Times “terrific…full of laughs…just enjoy”-Hollywood Reporter “deliriously funny”-LA Weekly It’s a Benefit Performance to remount the show-Fall of 2000 Saturday June 23 at 8:00 p.m. Reception to Follow at 10:00 p.m. Show & Reception $20 Reception only $10 Hor’s Doovor’s Buffalo Wings Keg-o-Beer Soda for days
'Serious Games' T-Shirt Give away & a few other surprises we may come up with DJ-Jimmy Dime Spinning Motown, 70’s Disco-2k Hip Hop Come back to see the show again with a friend or just come and celebrate
with us! Theatre/Theater 6425 Hollywood Boulevard, 4th Floor-between Wilcox and Cahuenga RSVP A MUST
(323) 871-9433