A review on Shakespeare’s play, Pakistani War-Rom theatre play, ‘Anthony & Cleopatra’ (2016).
- Director is Vajdaan Shah
- Sound Designers are Ashraf Bhatti & Sarosh Baloch
- Assistant Director is Muntazir Mehdi
- Costumes Designers are Pervez Iqbal & Erum Bashir
Many consider Shakespeare’s Cleopatra, whom Antony describes as having “Infinite Variety,” as one of the most complex and fully developed female characters in the playwright’s body of work.
+ Full Cast:
1) Tariq Raja as Mark Anthony
2) Kulsoom Aftab as Cleopatra
3) Ishtiaque-ur-Rasool Omar as Octavius Casesar
4) Shabana Hasan as Charmain
5) Shahjahan Narejo as Mardian
6) Aisha Iqbal as Octavia
7) Faraz Ali as Ventidius
8) Muhammad Zaman as Silius
9) Faizan Chawla as Agrippa
10) Farhan Alam as Domitius Enobarbus
11) Ibad Alam Sher as Scarus
12) Khalid Sherwani as Proculeis
13) Aamir Naqvi as Menas
14) Syed Muhammad Jamil as Lepidus
15) Kashif Hussain as Sextus Pompeis
16) Faisal Hayat as Maecenas
17) Mujtaba Rizvi as Alexas
18) Muntazir Mehdi as Lamprius
19) Ghulam Murtaza as Ambassador
After defeating Brutus and Cassius, following the assassination of Julius Caesar, Mark Anthony becomes one of the three rulers of the Roman Empire, together with Octavius Caesar and Lepidus. He is in love with Cleopatra, the Queen of Egypt and settles in Alexandria. However, Anthony is compelled to return to Rome once learning out the death of his former wife and leave Cleopatra behind who becomes furious rage of jealousy.
+ High Points
i – Kulsoom Aftab performed dazzlingly and lovely as Cleopatra. I don’t think any other actress from NAPA would have been as convincing or believable as Kulsoom was for the lead role of Cleopatra. She fully drowned herself in the character’s wants, thoughts as well as her body movements and gestures.
ii – One could see the passion, the love between Anthony and Cleopatra was deep. In a play like this where the title says ‘Anthony & Cleopatra’, a Shakespeare’s plays based on tragic love story, passionate love between the two lovers was a must that was perfectly shown on-stage. It shows the good mutual understanding between the actors and the director. Good Job!
iii – The perfect athletic body of Kashif Hussain as Sextus Pompeis plus a good performer clearly shows as to why he was chosen to play this role.
iv – Shabana Hasan played the supporting role superbly. She is a very good and experienced actress that one confidently believes that she would be able to pull off almost any role easily. Other Honorable Mentions: Muhammad Zaman, Faraz Ali, Aisha Iqbal, Tariq Raja and Ishtiaque-ur-Rasool Omar.
v – The costumes of the characters were well displayed.
vi – There were good punch lines by different characters that were spoken time to time in three hours play.
+ Low Points
i – The play was so long and boring that I was literally praying for the characters Anthony & Cleopatra to die so that we able to go home.
ii – The art direction of the stage is definitely a low point. Regardless that there was no budget for it, when the play is set to be performed for public including press then such requirement needs to be fulfilled with mild settings to be least. In a three hours play, this would be a huge drawback for the audience.
iii – The war scenes could have been creatively shown by using small hard boards cut pieces of the soldiers, knights … behind a white sheet while their shadows had indicated the war with proper lighting and music. Reference: watch the scenes of war between European and Ottoman army, in the fame horror film ‘Dracula’ (1992).
iv – This play could have improved with a good margin if there was professional music team who were handling the themes accordingly to the scenes and included some vocal songs with related good music.
v – There were way too many characters with hard names to be remembered by the audience.
vi – Performances by other actors were mediocre, especially by Khalid Sherwani and Syed Muhammad Jamil. But it is unfair to blame them as the long play itself was making it almost impossible for anyone to enjoy.
vii – I believe that a three hours play should be edited and make it to two hours one. There were many scenes where hardly gain any interest among the audience, which were making the viewers’ drowsy, in fact some of the people in audience slept unknowingly at their seats.
viii – Almost half of the audience did not return after the interval and further more (at least) 30% people exited the auditorium before the play could be completed. If the play is not interesting and its time length more than two hours, then this would naturally happen. People after the play complained to be ‘Too long’ or ‘Such a drag’.
ix – Rather than translating every word exactly, change some of it by realizing that how would the audience may response after hearing to these words in such an emotional scene. Sometimes it works while most of the times it does not. Instead of taking such a risk, which breaks the tempo and the efforts which are pour in to make those certain scenes with non-humor content then be very careful and wise to which words you exactly chose to speak while delivering it in front of the audience.
Sad to say that as stage play, Anthony & Cleopatra is raddled with flaws especially lacking in both image and action.
Rate: 2.25 out of 5 stars