An 'Antony and Cleopatra' worth seeing

by Williams Westhoven">

An 'Antony and Cleopatra' worth seeing

by Williams Westhoven,   The Daily Record

    "Antony and Cleopatra are such an infuriating couple, it was destiny that they would one day be played by Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.

    Of course, that was another time, another place and another story altogether. But Hollywood's epic treatment of this tale had at least one thing in common with Shakespeare's formidable romance classic:  each demanded larger-than-life actors fill the title roles.

   And here, the New Jersey Shakespeare Festival's triumphant production of "Antony and Cleopatra" can lay claim to a couple with the chops to go head-to-head with battling burtons.  Robert Cuccioli, who dazzled audiences on this stage a year ago as the star of "Enter the Guardsman" and is rapidly becoming a NFSF favorite, inhabits the role of antony with a sweaty verve and wide eyes that are like windows to his character's tortured soul.

    As for Tamara Tunie, her exotic beauty and diva posture give her character the confidence of Madonna, the class of Lena Horne and the petulance and passion of Scarlet O'Hara.

    Both embraced their respective roles with an appropriate amount of ham - Shakespeare makes them so complex, with choices that seem to constantly confound their wisdom, experience and blind love for each other, that to underplay these roles would make them all the more difficult to swallow.  Yet Cuccioli and Tunie, both demonstrate extraordinary range - giddy, vulnerable lovers one moment, steely soldiers and heads of state the next."


    "It's a timeless story, but you already knew that.  What you need to know what is a while "antony and Cleopatra" is considered one of Shakespeare's greatest plays, it is one of his lesser-produced works.  The demands of staging it, especially those of the lead actors, can put a strain on any theater company.

    So when a production of this quality drops into your area code, it makes good sense to take advantage. 


    Get thee hence to Madison and enjoy."

(... condensed - Review was on the September 15,2000 issue of the Daily Record in New Jersey)

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