Caesar and Cleopatra
Stratford Festival 2008
Written by George Bernard Shaw
Directed by Des McAnuff
Starring Christopher Plummer and Nikki M. James
Festival Theatre until Nov. 8
Director Des McAnuff’s production of Shaw’s Caesar and Cleopatra at the Stratford Festival is certainly luscious eye candy thanks to Robert Brill’s set and Paul Tazewell’s costumes. Both men have recreated ancient Egypt in gorgeous splendour.
The acting interpretation, while entertaining, is lightweight. The great Christopher Plummer as an avuncular Caesar knows how to deliver a line brimming with irony, but that’s all we get. Similarly, Nikki M. James captures the wilfulness of the teenage Cleopatra, but never moves off that one dimension. In fact, the excellent Stratford stable including Diane D’Aquila, Peter Donaldson, Steven Sutcliffe and Paul Dunn all skim the surface of characterization, although delightfully so. In truth, this is Shaw lite.
To be fair, the audience loved the production. Plummer makes sure we have lots of laughs with the others as his foils. The niggling disappointment is that McAnuff and his cast have turned Shaw into Noel Coward.
Caesar and Cleopatra continues at Stratford’s Festival Theatre until Nov. 8.