Antony and Cleopatra

A Play by William Shakespeare. One of the greatest tragedies - and perhaps history's most famous love story - that spans the entire Mediterranean world. Antony and Cleopatra are figures of immense power, but also self-destructive, undeviating senualists, whose passion is ultimately transcendent, looking beyond death. Consumed by the epic scale of the political events but caught up in the intimacy of their own passion. A tempestuous love affair that struggles to survive as power politics and the demands of Ancient Rome and Egypt tear these two great leaders apart.

1986 Haymarket Theatre: Timothy Dalton and Vanessa Redgrave for Theatr Clwyd

1987 Olivier Theatre: Anthony Hopkins and Judi Dench for the National Theatre

1993 Barbican Theatre: Richard Johnson and Clare Higgins for the RSC

1998 Olivier Theatre: Alan Rickman and Helen Mirren for the NT

1999 Shakespeare's Globe Theatre: Paul Shelley and Mark Rylance (all-male cast)

2000 Barbican Theatre: Alan Bates as 'Mark Antony' and Frances De La Tour for the RSC

2002 Haymarket Theatre: Stuart Wilson and Sinead Cusack for the RSC

2006 Shakespeare's Globe Theatre: Nicholas Jones and Frances Barber

2007 Novello Theatre: Patrick Stewart as 'Mark Antony' and Harriet Walter for the RSC

2010 Roundhouse: Darrell D'Silva and Kathryn Hunter for the RSC

2014 Shakespeare's Globe Theatre: Clive Wood and Eve Best

Shakespeare's other plays seen recently on the London stage include All's Well That Ends Well, As You Like It, The Comedy of Errors, Hamlet, Henry V, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Labour of Love, Love's Labour's Lost, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Much Ado About Nothing, Othello, Richard II, Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, The Winter's Tale and Thomas More.

Adaptations and associated stage productions include Being Shakespeare, The Bomb-itty of Errors, The Boys From Syracuse, The Complete Works of Shakespeare (Abridged), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Shakespeare In Love and West Side Story.

1986 Haymarket Theatre

Previewed 21 May 1986, Opened 26 May 1986, Closed 26 July 1986 (in repertory) at the Haymarket Theatre

The cast featured Timothy Dalton as 'Mark Antony' and Vanessa Redgrave as 'Cleopatra' with Ken Bones as 'Octavius Caesar'. Directed by Toby Robertson with choreography by Terry John Bates, designs by Simon Higlett, lighting by Pat Nelder and sound by Guy Colyer.

Presented by Theatr Clwyd.

1987 National Theatre

Previewed 3 April 1987, Opened 9 April 1987, Closed 6 February 1988 (in repertory) at the NT's Olivier Theatre

The cast featured Anthony Hopkins as 'Mark Antony' and Judi Dench as 'Cleopatra' with Tim Pigott-Smith as 'Octavius Caesar'. Directed by Peter Hall with designs by Alison Chitty, lighting by Stephen Wentworth, music by Dominic Muldowney and sound by Paul Arditti.

1993 RSC Barbican Theatre

Previewed 20 May 1993, Opened 26 May 1993, Closed 4 September 1993 (in repertory) at the Barbican Theatre

The cast featured Richard Johnson as 'Mark Antony' and Clare Higgins as 'Cleopatra' with John Nettles as 'Octavius Caesar'. Directed by John Caird with movement by Ian Spink, designs by Sue Blane, lighting by David Hersey, music by Ilona Sekacz and sound by Paul Slocombe.

1998 National Theatre

Previewed 12 October 1998, Opened 20 October 1998, Closed 3 December 1998 (in repertory) at the NT's Olivier Theatre

The cast featured Alan Rickman as 'Mark Antony' and Helen Mirren as 'Cleopatra' with Samuel West as 'Octavius Caesar'. Directed by Sean Mathias with movement by Wayne McGregor, sets by Tim Hatley, costumes by David Belugou, lighting by Mark Henderson, music by James Wood and sound by Paul Groothuis.

1999 Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Previewed 24 July 1999, Opened 30 July 1999, Closed 26 September 1999 (in repertory) at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

The cast featured Paul Shelley as 'Mark Antony' and Mark Rylance as 'Cleopatra' with Ben Walden as 'Octavius Caesar'. Directed by Giles Block with designs by Jenny Tiramani.

All-male cast.

2000 RSC Barbican Theatre

Previewed 13 January 2000, Opened 19 January 2000, Closed 6 April 2000 (in repertory) at the Barbican Theatre

The cast featured Alan Bates as 'Mark Antony' and Frances De La Tour as 'Cleopatra' with Guy Henry as 'Octavius Caesar'. Directed by Steven Pimlott with movement by Sue Lefton, designs by Yolanda Sonnabend, lighting by Hugh Vanstone and music by Jason Carr.

2002 RSC Haymarket Theatre

Previewed 28 August 2002, Opened 2 September 2002, Closed 21 September 2002 at the Haymarket Theatre

The cast featured Stuart Wilson as 'Mark Antony' and Sinead Cusack as 'Cleopatra' with Stephen Campbell-Moore as 'Octavius Caesar'. Directed by Michael Attenborough with movement by Clive Wood, designs by Es Devlin, lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Paddy Cunneen and sound by John Leonard.

"Antony and Cleopatra has a strong claim to being the greatest play ever written about love and sexual passion. The big problem here is that you never for a moment feel that Sinead Cusack's Cleopatra and Stuart Wilson's Mark Antony actually fancy each other. It's significant that both actors are at their best when they aren't on stage together. And though the director, Michael Attenborough, has repeatedly proved himself a dab-hand at romantic drama, the spark here fails to ignite... It is sad the romantic lightning hasn't struck here because Attenborough's production has a geat deal going for it elsewhere. He stages this sprawling play with brisk clarity, differentiates neatly (with the help of Es Devlin's design) between the cold, formal word of Rome and the luxurious abandonment of Alexandria, and in Cusack has a Cleopatra who comes within an ace of greatness. Her variety may not be infinite, but it is certainly impressive - Cusack turns on a sixpence between rage and good humour, seriousness and frivolity, deep sincerity and flirty deceit. She also has exactly the right raddled glamour for the part... Unfortunately, Wilson's grizzled old hippie of an Antony doesn't come close to matching her. His thin, strangulated voice is desperately inexpressive, and you never sense the internal conflict of a man who has abandoned his old values for a mighty passion... What a shame it is that the production cannot find a passion to match its manifest intelligence." The Daily Telegraph

"Michael Attenborough's underpowered RSC production, if nothing else, strongly contrasts the two cultures. Rome is strict, monochrome, minimalist. Egypt is decadently luxurious, colourful, flowing with booze. And Stuart Wilson's Antony has clearly gone native, lounging in a sarong, bare chested and long-haired. Unfortunately, the usually fine designer Es Devlin has cobbled together a bizarrely ugly Alexandrian palace. Scattered with bog-standard ethnic cushions, it looks like a hippy squat with Antony as chief beatnik. Physically, Wilson certainly has great warmth and the weightiness of a warrior going to seed, but vocally he's thin, without resonance. Sinead Cusack grows quietly poignant in her final moments as Queen, but never captures the girlish charm or comedy of Cleopatra's flighty theatrics." The Independent on Sunday

"The upside of Michael Attenborough's production is pace and brio and, in Sinead Cusack, a wonderfully volatile Queen of the Nile. But there are downsides too: the excision of Pompey, which means that one of the finest scenes Shakespeare wrote ends in a drunken party that has no clear reason for happening, and lines sometimes so scrambled that a battery hen might just have dropped them into a frying pan. Stuart Wilson's Antony, who several times condensed innocent words into a weird verbal smokescreen, was the principal villain, but even Cusack felt impelled to yell that she didn't like someone called Butchett. It took me a moment to recall that a Roman messenger had nervously introduced the subject of Antony's marriage to Octavia with "but yet". Such is diction at the RSC these days... If one overlooks his lapses of diction and disconcertingly high, light voice, Wilson does pretty well, lolling and indolently smiling one moment, blazing with fury the next, and never losing touch with Antony the rough soldier and experienced old campaigner. So does Stephen Campbell-Moore, an Octavius whose princely pretensions are subverted by priggishness, smugness, fierce ambition and a vindictive glee in his foes' setbacks that he can't quite conceal. But, as so often with this play, it's Cleopatra's evening." The Times

Antony and Cleopatra in London at the Haymarket Theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company previewed from 28 August 2002, opened on 2 September 2002 and closed on 21 September 2002

2006 Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Previewed 25 June 2006, Opened 5 July 2006, Closed 8 October 2006 (in repertory) at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

The cast featured Nicholas Jones as 'Mark Antony' and Frances Barber as 'Cleopatra' with Jack Laskey as 'Octavius Caesar'. Directed by Dominic Dromgoole with designs by Mike Britton.

2007 RSC Novello Theatre

Previewed 11 January 2007, Opened 15 January 2007, Closed 17 February 2007 at the Novello Theatre

The cast featured Patrick Stewart as 'Mark Antony' and Harriet Walter as 'Cleopatra' with John Hopkins as 'Octavius Caesar'. Directed by Gregory Doran with movement by Michael Ashcroft, sets by Stephen Brimson Lewis, costumes by Kandis Cook, lighting by Tim Mitchell, music by Adrian Lee and sound by Martin Slavin.

"This new Antony and Cleopatra is a celebration of the old RSC values, not least the title-role performances of Patrick Stewart and Harriet Walter. True, he is a little older and more gentle than the traditional warrior but she has just the right mix of arrogance and sexiness and this, in the end, is a play about the charisma of two world-class stars in a power struggle between Rome and Egypt. Gregory Doran has realised that this is a play about passion rather than politics and that despite a strong supporting cast, it all really depends on our involvement with the sheer complexity of the title characters: she the queen of a poor and crumbling empire, holding it together often by the sheer force of her personality, while he tries unsuccessfully to contain his obsession with her and stay true to his Roman imperative... If there is a problem, it is that Stewart's Antony seems almost too nice, too intelligent, too thoughtful to be the brash warrior and it is only when she is left alone at the end of the play, that this Cleopatra truly comes into her own. For all that, this reading works very well indeed as a study not so much in romance as in self-delusion, the fatal attraction of allowing yourself to fall in love with the idea of falling in love... The evening really belongs to Harriet Walter and Patrick Stewart, who both admirably convey what it must be like to dazzle and be dazzled." The Daily Express

"Gregory Doran doesn't try to evoke empires: Stephen Brimson-Lewis's bare design has a splodgy approximation of a map - as if the lovers have been rolling in paint. Confined, they aren't playing out their passion against the backdrop of the world, but letting the world go to hell while they get on with each other. This is a play which can be baggy, with its switches of continent and teeming short scenes, but here the action is brisk and focused, gliding from reproving Rome to untrammelled Egypt - from togas to tunics - with a few whoops and wild dances from the houris, but no incense-soaked exoticism... Patrick Stewart and Harriet Walter are individually compelling. More importantly, this pair find each other essential... Stewart's performance will beam him up in the minds of theatre-goers. Gnarled and wry, battle-scarred without swaggering, he disconcerts his younger comrades by his nonchalance... Harriet Walter is Stewart's wonderful match. She's not heavily voluptuous, but she's physically and emotionally agile... Robust and apparently unpretentious, Doran's production subtly re-makes a wonderful play." The Observer

"An odd production, this. It does some things all right. It enjoys itself during the drunken revel the various Roman generals have. Its music has lots of bazaar pipes and exciting percussion. The macho bits of battle are okay, too, even if the oddly frizzy-haired Patrick Stewart, when dressed in fighting uniform, looks like Paddy Ashdown in a skirt. It is interesting to see Octavius Caesar (John Hopkins) done not as the usual stiff-upper-lip type but, here, as an intense young man who seems to be on the autistic spectrum. Gregory Doran's direction is patchy, though, for he lets comedy run out of hand in other scenes. The role of the messenger to Cleopatra's court is done like a Blackadder turn by Craig Gazey. Well acted but ill-advised. Although Antony admits he is 'grizzled' Mr Stewart may now be a little geriatric for this sort of warrior pinup role. It's not just his age. I am not best qualified to judge on such matters but I wonder if he is quite sexy enough to play a dashing conqueror who slays the heart of the queen of Egypt. Cleopatra is played, with classic vowels and high cheekbones, by Harriet Walter. I adore Miss Walter (that voice is the noblest of parchments) and it does not really matter that she is no more oriental than East Sheen. Her hauteur is most convincing in her final scene, when she is no longer polluted by her old codger of a flame, Mr Stewart." The Daily Mail

Antony and Cleopatra in London at the Novello Theatre for the Royal Shakespeare Company previewed from 11 January 2007, opened on 15 January 2007 and closed on 17 February 2007

2010 RSC Roundhouse

Previewed 8 December 2010, Opened 10 December 2010, Closed 30 December 2010 (in repertory) at the Roundhouse

The cast featured Darrell D'Silva as 'Mark Antony' and Kathryn Hunter as 'Cleopatra' with John Mackay as 'Octavius Caesar'. Directed by Michael Boyd with movement by Anna Morrissey, designs by Tom Piper, lighting by Wolfgang Gobbel, music by James Jones and John Woolf, and sound by Andrew Franks.

"Shakespeare's great late tragedy is a big and, in some respects, meandering play, so it's a major point in its favour that Michael Boyd's modern-dress production makes such short, well-signposted work of its political intricacies and private tergiversations... The battle and party scenes are tidily choreographed but, like much else here, they feel efficient rather than inspired. The production contains some of Shakespeare's most sublime poetry but the verse rarely takes wing. Small and mercurial, and trigger-happy when people bring news she doesn't want to hear, Kathryn Hunter's Cleopatra lives up to her 'infinite variety' tag: she's a hypnotically fascinating figure, if lacking in seductive guile. Meanwhile, Darrell D'Silva's Antony, dressed in combat gear and with a cigar in his mouth, looks like George Peppard in The A-Team. But this is supposed to be a love story and the two leads fail to suggest any kind of erotic connection. Without more credible chemistry, their vaunted passion seems hollow. The Metro

"In Shakespeare's magnificent tragedy Antony And Cleopatra, a mature Shakespeare returns to the Romeo And Juliet template of a love affair that ends in dual suicide, and transforms it into a grand and glamorous account of passion in middle-age, powerful enough to shake the political foundations of the world. Not that you'd know that from Michael Boyd's uninspired, underpowered Royal Shakespeare Company revival... Cleopatra doesn't have to be a stunner, but she needs to have a stunningly seductive effect on all around her. Diminutive Kathryn Hunter, more shrivelled shrimp than serpent of the old Nile, hurls herself around the stage, dragging one leg and occasionally leaping into Antony's arms or on to his shoulders like a hyperactive monkey. She has neither grandeur nor majesty nor sexual allure. Her temper tantrums are not queenly, just spoilt, ill-judged attempts to be funny. Worse, she growls and garbles the verse in a mildly hysterical Hispanic accent. There's no chemistry between her and Darrell D'Silva's unexciting Antony... With too little sense of a falling short of greatness, or grief or guilt or shame expressed by either Antony or Cleopatra, the play loses its tragic dimension." The Mail on Sunday

"Michael Boyd's production is not just shoddy, not just insensitive, badly cast, sloppily spoken and occasionally vulgar - it is embarrassing. It has none of the play's tragic grandeur, none of its fatal sensuality, its brooding, dark humour, nor any of the thrilling complexity of its character. Shakespeare's Antony is a charismatic leader, a reckless politician and a desperate, lust-driven lover, with a touch of a demigod. Darrell D'Silva plays him as an ageing bohemian, a swaggering, thuggish retired SAS man trying to keep up his reputation. Shakespeare's Cleopatra is regal and sensual, cunning, adorable and infuriating: a cross between a fishwife and a goddess. Kathryn Hunter plays the fishwife: a noisy, pig-headed harpy, much given to rolling her eyes, grotesquely sexy without being sensual. Neither actor shows any feeling for the music of the lines - if you're new to the play, you might never know that some of the most fiery and heart-rending poetry of the language is being spoken. Only the senior actors know how to speak verse." The Sunday Times

Antony and Cleopatra in London at the Roundhouse for the Royal Shakespeare Theatre previewed from 8 December 2010, opened on 10 December 2010 and closed on 30 December 2010 (in repertory)

2014 Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

Previewed 17 May 2014, Opened 29 May 2014, Closed 24 August 2014 (in repertory) at the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre

The cast featured Clive Wood as 'Marc Antony' and Eve Best as 'Cleopatra' with Jolyon Coy as 'Octavius Caesar'. Directed by Jonathan Munby with designs by Colin Richmond.