Anthony and Cleopatra with Janet Suzman

Antony and Cleopatra is notoriously hard to stage, particularly if its swift scene-changes are made the occasion of grandiose effects, but it works surprisingly well on television, with a minimum of stage setting and great stress on close-ups. I have seen innumerable great actresses struggle with the part, but Cleopatra is almost never as effectively evoked as here by Janet Susman. This brief minor scene illustrates the perfection of Shakespeare’s verbal mastery in it rapid fluctuations of tone.

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