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Stagy Shakespeare on Videotape. Lots and lots of lying down acting in this 1981 BBC Antony and Cleopatra.

January 14, 2020

Reposting on the occasion of Mark Anthony’s birthday.



The costumes are clever and logical in overall conceptual terms.  These people are not wearing ancient Roman and Egyptian costume.  They are not wearing Northern European Renaissance costume either.  They are wearing what Northern European people c. 1600 probably imagined looked vaguely “eastern”.  They are dressed from big hamper that is  probably labelled “Venetian and further”.

So what we’re getting is neither Classical nor Renaissance but a Renaissance idea of the Classical.   It also demonstrates that the BBC Shakespeare series became considerably more thoughtful and imaginative after Jonathan Miller took over at the helm.

The battle scenes (or rather, the scenes with dialogue that pertains to imminent battle) are a little distractingly kitted out insofar as the officer caste favour very tight red vinyl shorts.  The Battle of Actium seems to have been fought between rival factions of an S&M cycling club.

One strangely ‘eastern’ feature of this production…

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