Drawing: Eve Best and Clive Wood in Antony and Cleopatra at Shakespeare’s Globe

Antony and Cleopatra

The season of Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra is into its final week at the Globe in London, with Olivier award-winning actress Eve Best and RSC veteran Clive Wood in the title roles.

It’s Shakespeare’s greatest exploration of the conflicting claims of sex and power, but its contradictory features make it difficult to put into a single genre. It can be classified as a history play, a tragedy, comedy and a romance! Cleopatra is the Bar’s most complex female role.

The Guardian’s Michael Billington summed up the performance of the two leads “restlessly sensual, Best is excellent at capturing Cleopatra’s mercurial contradictions… Wood plays Antony as an old ruffian who is seduced by the Alexandrian fleshpots… more at ease with the ragged world of male soldiery… is faintly apprehensive of the quixotic, mood-changing queen.”

Paul Taylor in The Independent reinforces this, “Best is a supreme mistress at working the Globe space, wonderfully unforced audience rapport and brings a terrific impatient energy to Cleopatra’s capricious changes. She even flirts with the groundlings (standing audience members) planting a kiss on one of them. Clive Wood is a natural casting as Antony – a sexy ageing lion torn between two worlds, who vacillates between duty and pleasure.”