Antony and Cleopatra
By: William Shakespeare
A battle-hardened soldier, Antony is one of the three leaders of the Roman world. But he is also a man in the grip of an all-consuming passion for Cleopatra, the exotic and tempestuous queen of Egypt. And when their life of pleasure together is threatened by the encroaching politics of Rome, the conflict between love and duty has devastating consequences.
And here we are, the last play by Shakespeare I have not read. Granted, I still have to re-read The Merchant of Venice (and which I will review here afterwards), but from the plays that I never read, this is it 🙂 I’m vaguely familiar with this play and what period of Roman history this takes place in so it should be interesting to read how Shakespeare approaches these events in his drama.
Unlike the last few Shakespeare plays I’ve read, this play certainly hits the ground running, which was nice. It establishes the political climate towards the end of Mark Antony’s ife with the fractions within the Second Triumvirate as well as his temptuous relationship with Cleopatra. While I was reading this, I couldn’t help but remember HBO’s Rome as the scenes in the second series closely ran with events in the play (whether this was the show was doing it on purpose, I don’t know), but in the first few scenes, the reader really gets a sense of what Mark Antony and Cleopatra’s relationship is like even before the politics really takes centre stage in the story.
The rest of the story really unfolds quite quickly, from the breakdown of the triumvirate to all-out war to Mark Antony’s downfall. Many of the scenes were short so despite the fact that this play is a bit on the long side (I think; I had put off reading this play because it was the largest of the Shakespeare eBooks lined up for my Kobo), it never felt that way. Well, the pacing does slow down considerably in the fifth Act after Mark Antony’s death, like a long march towards the end of Cleopatra and Octavian’s triumph. It could’ve been shorter then, I think, but anyway…
Antony & Cleopatra was an interesting and at times exciting read. It has action and drama and politicking and there wasn’t a moment in this play where I was bored. There weren’t any terribly memorable lines or moments that come to mind, probably because the story of Mark Antony and Cleopatra is memorable in and of itself. A interesting play to cap off reading all of Shakespeare’s works! 🙂 (ahhhh!!!)