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January 25, 2010
The bling. The boyfriend. The wardrobe. Like a star on the red carpets, Cleopatra had it all. And before a riveted captive audience, embraced in everything from knee blankets to sleeping bags, the glory of this Egyptian goddess unfolded.
Maynard Open Air Theatre played host to Shakespeare’s Anthony and Cleopatra. A tale of love and passion, of murder and intrigue, betrayal both in bed and in battle – across that mystical span of sea, the Mediterranean. But it is the character of Cleopatra which holds our attention most strongly. The bards’ portrayal of her is a masterpiece. She is a triumph to voluptuousness, exudes charm boastfully and displays what only the indulgent rich can master – haughty, fickle whims.

Enobarbus, Anthony’s right-hand, pays homage to her beauty and powers of seduction…
“Age cannot wither her, nor custom stale
Her infinite variety. Other women cloy
The appetites they feed, but she makes me hungry
Where most she satisfies.”

Another glimpse into her luxurious pomp and gorgeous extravagance in all its force and lustre is presented to us when Enobarbus, in rich poetical prose, describes Anthony’s first meeting with Cleopatra.

“The barge she sat in, like a burnished throne,
Burned on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumèd, that
The winds were lovesick with them; the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water which they beat to follow faster,

An introduction of this nature would almost certainly prepare the way for, and almost justify Anthony’s infatuation with her.

Pride of beauty and regal haughtiness is perfectly illustrated in her conversation with Antony’s messenger who had been tasked to spy on and report back on Anthony’s antics abroad.
“There’s gold, and here
My bluest veins to kiss!”

But like any jealous, insecure woman, Cleopatra erupts furiously at the unwelcome news of Anthony’s marriage to Octavia and only grew content when told that her rival was homely by Elizabethan standards: short, low-browed and round-faced with bad hair. Not much different to women of today, is she?

A quaint box office still in use today.

I love the lampstand. Sadly, an import.

An odd couple who were actually a walking ad for an upcoming event at The Baxter.
Meet my fabulous sister and best friend, Tess.

Striking in it’s simplicity

The MTV generation may have popularised the term ‘Diva’
but I think Cleopatra created the mould.

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