The Theatre Series kicks off with William Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra at McCarter Theatre Center. This production, directed by Emily Mann, exudes power and passion in the intimate Berlind Theatre. Nicole Ari Parker (Boogie Nights) and Essau Pritchett (Fences at McCarter) are cast in the title roles.
Antony and Cleopatra begin on stage both striking poses, Antony flexing his biceps and Cleopatra positioning into elegant stances, showing the extremes of femininity and masculinity. Parker’s stunning beauty and charm befits Cleopatra. Marc Antony has the physique of a gladiator, which Pritchett clearly presents with his intimidating build.
Parker and Pritchett gave adequate performances, though Pritchett could have been a little more articulate. However, the supporting cast was extraordinary. Michael Siberry (Enobarbus) who played Robert in Proof last season, and was also in Uncle Vanya at McCarter; Warner Miller (Eros/Soldier) and Zainab Jah (Charmian) both performed in The Convert at McCarter; Everett Quiton (Mardian/Clown) who royally provided comic relief, and played Bennett in Travesties at McCarter, plus Tobias Segal (Octavius Caesar) and Keith Eric Chappelle (Soldier, amongst other roles) all gave compelling performances.
Percussionist Mark Katsaounis sat just off stage left and filled the air with unique sounds and rhythms, which were a fusion of many genres. He stepped on stage, joined by Pritchett, to play an odaiko drum. Both showed their athletic prowess and rhythmic drumming skills as the warrior readied for battle.
This production is definitely worth seeing. The set and costumes are well done, the direction of Emily Mann is superb, and the performances are powerful. Antony and Cleopatra is playing now through October 5th.