Antony + 

Cleopatra

BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

ADAPTED AND DIRECTED BY RORY PELSUE

YALE SUMMER CABARET

DRAMATURGY: Catherine María Rodríguez

CHOREOGRAPHY: Michael Breslin

SCENIC DESIGN: Riw Rakkulchon

COSTUME DESIGN: Cole McCarty

SOUND DESIGN Michael Costagliola

LIGHTING DESIGN: Krista Smith

STAGE MANAGER: Olivia Plath

REVIEW HIGHLIGHTS:

With Pelsue at the helm, there’s a great sense of invention in Antony & Cleopatra, a celebration of drag’s eon-spanning, stereotype-breaking properties and its fittingness to Shakespeare’s swooning language. Maybe we’ve all seen Romeo and Juliet adaptations where the characters pull out iPhones and struggle with the words. This is the opposite. It’s current but not clumsy, subversive only in its faith to the original. This makes the questions the characters ask in Antony & Cleopatra as timeless as ever….Pelsue employs drag to great narrative effect, seizing on an interest in sex and gender (Romans = macho, down to business, straight! Alexandrians = flashy, dramatic, flamboyant!) that’s in the original text…Shakespearian? Maybe not in the traditional sense (although the actors in Shakespeare’s time would have all been played by men). But with a deep understanding of drag and the history behind it, the adaptation breathes new life into the verse, coming up with enough touches to make it its own. (Lucy Gellman, New Haven Independent)

 

Pelsue’s Antony + Cleopatra seizes on the central conceit of Shakespeare’s play—that the Romans are all about organization and power and probity and the Egyptians all about their own pleasures—and notches it up into a series of visual arias on the status of “straight” and “gay.”…There are subtleties galore in Pelsue’s vision of the play: Sometimes major speeches are delivered as songs, mike in hand. Actors leap atop a table, sit at tables shared by audience members, sprawl on divans, deliver orations at a mike-stand, and in general cavort with a reckless abandon that, to a heady and liberating extent, makes the Bard its bitch. (Donald Brown, New Haven Review)

The characters dance as much as they fight or make love. They turn monologues such as "Give me my robe, put on my crown" and "O sovereign mistress of true melancholy" into sweet songs. They bleed glitter… Sexy nightlife variations on Shakespeare aren't uncommon, but his one speaks the bard's words respectfully, and honors the spirit of unbridled love with flash, flair and fabulousness… (Christopher Arnott, Hartford Courant)