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Review Roundup: National Theatre's Streaming Production of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA - What Did the Critics Think?

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Review Roundup: National Theatre's Streaming Production of ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA - What Did the Critics Think?

The National Theatre's production of Antony and Cleopatra, directed by Simon Godwin, streamed online last weekend.

Ralph Fiennes (The English Patient, James Bond: Spectre) and Sophie Okonedo (Chimerica, Hotel Rwanda) play Shakespeare's famous fated couple in his great tragedy of politics, passion and power.

At the fringes of a war-torn empire the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra and Mark Antony have fallen fiercely in love. In a tragic fight between devotion and duty, obsession becomes a catalyst for war.

Read the reviews for the stream below!


Barbara Trainin Blank, BroadwayWorld: There is much to admire in this streamed production of one of Shakespeare's lesser-performed but highly dramatic play. It isn't a work with many famous lines - though it has some - but Antony & Cleopatra makes up for it with action. One of the memorable aspects of the production is the appearance of Ralph Fiennes, who you may not have seen in person. Then there is the naturally flowing, palpable passion between him and Sophie Okonedo as the Cleopatra.

Aliya Al-Hassan, BroadwayWorld: Ralph Fiennes is a quieter Antony than some, but speaks his lines in a manner so natural that it quickly feels quotidian. Fiennes is utterly convincing and gives the deftest performance in showing a man desperate not to age; he knows he is past his prime but cannot bring himself to do what is his duty. He wants to retain the legend of the man. Sophie Okonedo is simply wonderful as the capricious Cleopatra; petulant, yet poised. Whip-smart, witty, vain and charming. Okonedo focuses on Cleopatra's greatest power, also her greatest weakness; her willfullness rules everything. This is a woman who knows that she can do exactly what she wants and she is intoxicated by that power.

Laura De Lisle, The Arts Desk: It's a neat trick for Godwin, a National semi-regular since 2013 now based much of the year in Washington DC; his Shakespeare debut at this address, the gloriously madcap Twelfth Night with Tamsin Greig, was part of the first round of NT At Home offerings, two weeks (or several decades) ago. This time, though, despite strong performances from both Okonedo and Ralph Fiennes in the lead roles, the show doesn't fully get going until the last 20 minutes. Which, across three hours, is something of an achievement.

Lee Jeffreys, MD Theatre Guide: As one of the finest playhouses in the world, The National Theatre is truly a gem, and right now the company is providing theatre lovers all over with blessed respite from binge-watching trash television or banal TikTok dance videos. As a huge Shakespeare fan, it was also nice to spend time with a grand adventure and heart-rending tragedy of lesser renown but possessing top-notch acting and phenomenal production values.

Andrew Walker White, DC Metro: Having established her incredible chops as a performer, Okonedo is a marvel to behold. It is almost jarring to find her epic persona reduced microscopically to the confines of your laptop. She rules the world, bursting with petulance and wily intrigues. In addition to Fiennes and Okonedo, you will see one of NT's stronger casts assembled, and it's made all the more impressive due to their sheer numbers.

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