Obsidian Theater creates a performance of Antony and Cleopatra Worthy of Rome
By H.G. Welch
The tale of Marc Antony and Cleopatra has been called the greatest love story ever told. It was with no small challenge that the Obsidian Theater tackled one of Shakespeare's most challenging plays. Fortunately through the talent of an already veteran cast the production is a near masterpiece. The audience is bombarded with the larger than life title characters, and the supporting cast shores up its dominating leads.
The titles characters are portrayed by Tom Stell and Whitney Zangarine, who throw everything they have into their roles. Stell is bombastic and grandstanding but not over the top, Zangarine is equal parts mercurial and coy. Stell's tragic hero is manipulated by Cleopatra and Caesar Augustus, all the time refusing to listen to the advice of his closest officers who can see what is actually happening. His portrayal is both inspiring and frustrating, as he is the cause of his own demise but is the only one that can't see it coming. Zangarine's Cleopatra is a woman too smart for her own good, with countless plans in motion, only to fail because of her indecisiveness. As her machinations unravel, so does her appearance until at the very end she is a broken woman, in form as a well as spirit.
The supporting cast is top notch. Jenna Morris and Katherine Rinaldi serve as Cleopatra's hand maidens, and are as every bit as conniving as their queen, and have the same break down in the final moments. Seth Cunningham as Caesar oozes confidence and superiority, as he plays the long game against the doomed lovers in the civil war ravaging the Roman empire. Bryan Kaplun is the most sympathetic characters, Enobarbus, Antony's drunken aide who turns on him only to be devoured by guilt.
Sam Martinez pushes the play in an extremely dramatic fashion. Many of the lines are shouted, Stell on occasion reaches Brian Blessed levels of delivery. He fits in a lot of expository dialogue in both brief scenes and a voiced over chorus during scene changes. At no point was the audience bored, and it was easy to keep track of events even with the Old English delivery.
Antony and Cleopatra is not an easy play to produce. It's an amalgam of much of Shakespeare's different works. It has war, romance, tragedy, comedy, and Romans. It requires two actors of equal talent to pull off the varied styles. Fortunately Obsidian Theater has accomplished just that and the result is worthy of Caesar.
Antony and Cleopatra is playing at the Obsidian Theater until April 8. Arrive early as parking fills up quickly. The play does run a little bit long, clocking in at 2 ½ hours with one intermission.
Director - Sam Martinez
Assistant Director - Elizabeth Grant
Producer - Rachel Landon
The cast includes:
Antony - Tom Stell
Cleopatra - Whitney Zangarine
Proculieus – Emily Lange
Lepidus – Will Ledesma
Soothsayer, Clown, Treasurer – Sarah Sneesby
Pompey, Eros – Zachary Givens
Charmian – Jenna Morris
Iras – Katherine Rinaldi
Octavia – Megan Nix
Caesar – Seth Cunningham
Aggrippa – Ty Fisher
Enobarbus – Bryan Kaplun
Philo, Menas – Dillon Dewitt
Diamedes – Kacie Adams
Demetrius, Gallus – Austin Heps
Performance dates are March 16, 17, 18, 23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 30, 31 and April 1, 6, 7 and 8 at 8:00pm and April 2 at 3:00pm
Performances are at Obsidian Art Space, located at 3522 White Oak in the heart of the Heights and the White Oak dining and entertainment district.
Tickets are $30 for Adults $25 for Students and Seniors. $20 tickets are available to groups of 6 or more.
To purchase tickets to Antony and Cleopatra please visit www.obsidiantheater.org or call (832) 889-7837 for more information