Antony and Cleopatra

Content Group

Antony and Cleopatra: Sarah Bernhardt as Cleopatra

This play has rarely achieved the status of the other four major tragedies of Shakespeare's maturity, possibly because its tone is so diversified: there is a sustained note of comedy in much of the dialogue, and Cleopatra's character deliberately defies tragic decorum. Critics are intensely divided over whether to censure or admire the role. Cleopatra's mercurial temperament has exceeded the reach of many distinguished actresses. (Since the eighteenth century, famous portrayals include those by Elizabeth YoungeHarriet Elizabeth DiddearAdelaide Ellen Biddies, Helena ModjeskaSarah Bernhardt, and Maggie Smith). It is hard to imagine an Elizabethan boy actor in the part, despite the play's overt reference to such a performance (5.2.216-23). The rapidity of scene changes is almost cinematic and perhaps the most successful performance was that directed by Trevor Nunn for the Royal Shakespeare Company and adapted for television in 1975 by John Scoffield with Janet Suzman as Cleopatra, in which the naturalistic dialogue is well sustained by all the characters, including Richard Johnson as Antony and Patrick Stewart as Enobarbus.

Cleopatra, Paramount, 1934
Antony and Cleopatra: Constance Collier (1878-1955) as Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra: Robert L. Downing (1857-1944) as Antony.
Antony and Cleopatra, RSC, 1972: Corin Redgrave as Octavius Caesar.
Antony and Cleopatra, RSC,1982. Helen Mirren as Cleopatra.
Antony and Cleopatra: Drury Lane Theatre, 1873
Antony and Cleopatra: His Majesty's Theatre, 1906
Antony and Cleopatra: The Drunken Scene
Antony and Cleopatra: Mrs. Charles Calvert as Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra: Sarah Bernhardt as Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra: Lily Langtry as Cleopatra
Antony and Cleopatra: Cleopatra in 1972 Film
Antony and Cleopatra: Royal Shakespeare Company, 1999
Antony and Cleopatra: Mark Rylance as Cleopatra
Great Lakes Shakespeare Festival, Antony and Cleopatra, 1964.
Stratford Festival, Ontario, 1976: Antony and Cleopatra
Essay Title Author
"Antony and Cleopatra" as Tragicomedy Hugh Richmond

Bevington, David, ed. Antony and Cleopatra, by William Shakespeare. The New Cambridge Shakespeare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Dobson, Michael, and Adele Lee. "Year of Shakespeare: Antony and Cleopatra – Two Perspectives." Review of Antony and Cleopatra (Antonius ile Kleopatra), directed by Kemal Aydoğan, Oyun Atölyesi, The Globe, London. Blogging Shakespeare (Shakespeare Birthplace Trust), May 29, 2012.

Dusinberre, Juliet. "Squeaking Cleopatras: Gender and Performance in Antony and Cleopatra." In Shakespeare, Theory, and Performance, edited by James C. Bulman, 46-67. London and New York: Routledge, 1996.

Groppali, Enrico. "La Duse e Shakespeare: una Cleopatra smarrita tra Boito e D'Annunzio." Quaderni di Teatro 5, no. 19 (1983): 189-96.

Hodgdon, Barbara. "Antony and Cleopatra in the Theatre." In The Cambridge Companion to Shakespearean Tragedy, edited by Claire McEachern, 241-63. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002.

Lowen, Tirzah. Peter Hall Directs "Antony and Cleopatra." New York: Limelight Editions, 1991.

Lamb, Margaret. Antony and Cleopatra on the English Stage. Rutherford: Farleigh Dickinson University Press, 1980.

Madelaine, Richard, ed. Antony and Cleopatra. Shakespeare in Production, edited by J. S. Bratton and Julie Hankey. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Mahon, John W. "Infinite Variety: Antony and Cleopatra x 2." Shakespeare Newsletter 56, no. 1 [268] (Spring/Summer 2006): 1-2, 4, 31.

Male, David. Antony and Cleopatra. Shakespeare On Stage. Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1984.

Miles, Keith. "Antony and Cleopatra in Performance." English Review 4, no. 4 (1994): 2-5.

Novak, Maximillian E. "Criticism, Adaptation, Politics, and the Shakespearean Model of Dryden's All for Love." Studies in Eighteenth Century Culture 7, edited by Roseann Runte, 375-87. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1978.

O'Shea, José Roberto. "The Performance Is the Thing: The Royal Shakespeare Company and Antony and Cleopatra – 1982, 1992." Estudos Anglo-Americanos 19-24 (1995-2000): 101-15.

Richmond, Hugh M. "Cleopatra's Escape from Tragic Virtue." In Shakespeare's Sexual Comedy, 165-76. Indianapolis and New York: Bobbs-Merrill, 1971.

Rosenberg, Marvin. The Masks of "Antony and Cleopatra." Newark: University of Delaware Press, 2006. [Includes "Theatrical Bibliography" 532-93]

Antony and Cleopatra at Talkin' Broadway.

Zink, Abbey. "The Lady Was a Dame: Gender Performance and the Role of Cleopatra in the 1999 RSC and Globe Productions of Antony and Cleopatra." Shakespeare Bulletin 18, no. 1 (2000): 20-23.

Except where otherwise specified, all written commentary is © 2016, Hugh Macrae Richmond