Presented by Independent Theatre
Reviewed 20 July 2013
One of the most classic tales of all time, George Bernard Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra, arrives on stage again thanks to director Rob Crosser and Independent Theatre. This performance of the classic Shaw comedy is full of all the laughs, tragedy and intrigue of it’s past renditions.
Caesar (David Roach), both conqueror of the world and man of extreme compassion, arrives in Egypt where he promptly encounters Cleopatra (Alicia Zorkovic). The young and naïve Cleopatra immediately charms the old general and so he decides to tutor her to take her place on the throne. Many in Egypt are not happy with this and so a deadly rebellion swells, leading to murder, revenge and terrible plots.
Classic plays like Caesar and Cleopatra always highlight the acting talent of those performing. Long, passionate monologues, melodramatic flourishes and over-the-top characters all require actors to come along with their A-Game, and those involved in this production certainly do not fail. Roach plays a fantastic and commanding Caesar who treads a fine line between powerful and caring. Zorkovic is a funny, bubbly Cleopatra, but can cry woe like the best of them. Nicholas Ely as Pothinus, the creepy, conniving Pharaoh’s guardian also stands out, as does Keith Wilson as Rufio and Bronwyn Ruciak as the Ftateeta (or Teetotota… or Totatee).
All the performers in the play show such passion and energy. Although there were a few fumbles here and there, they always managed to keep the ball rolling. I’d also like to point out that the repeated cries of ‘Hail Caesar!’ are very well done. There is a lot of screaming and roaring in this play, and those actors that do some of this yelling do it spectacularly well.
The set is quite epic for the relatively small space. Consisting of numerous and moveable arches, stairs and blocks (shaped like Sphinx feet), the stage can become almost any location in the whole of Alexandria. The beautifully designed projected backdrops, by Nicholas Ely, also add to the performance, with their sombre colours that remind you of ancient deserts. A bit of a drawback to the modular nature of the set is that it took a bit too long between scenes to move it all around. The planning and blocking that went into this set really shows through though. The performance space is sometimes poorly lit, which can add to the atmosphere, but definitely effects the viewing of the performers.
Caesar and Cleopatra is definitely a play to see, if not for the yelling, drama and laughs, then for its historic and epic nature. If you’ve never before delved into the tale of Cleopatra then this is your chance!
Reviewed by James Rudd
Venue: Odeon Theatre, cnr Queen Street and The Parade, Norwood
Season: 4 – 12 April 2014
Duration: 2 Hours 30 Mins, including intermission
Tickets: $23.25 – $40.55
Bookings: Through BASS online or phone 131 246