Antony & Cleopatra on the road for East Sussex tour

Antony & Cleopatra - Jonny Magnanti & Emily CardingAntony & Cleopatra - Jonny Magnanti & Emily Carding
Antony & Cleopatra - Jonny Magnanti & Emily Carding
Caught in the crossfire between duty and love, Antony & Cleopatra, played by Jonny Magnanti and Emily Carding, step onto the battlefield to determine their places in history and in each other's hearts.

On a 50-year mission to perform all of Shakespeare’s complete works, the Bowler Crab Theatre Company have entered their tenth season, having produced 25 Shakespeare plays in the 1066 area to date.

Dates for Antony & Cleopatra include The Abbott's Hall (Battle Abbey), Battle, Wednesday, June 1; Half House Farm, Three Oaks (Hastings), Friday 3, Saturday 4, Sunday 5, Friday 10, Saturday 11, Friday 17, Saturday 18, Sunday 19; Manor Barn (indoors), Bexhill-on-Sea, Sunday, June 12; and The Mermaid Inn, Rye, Wednesday 15, Thursday 16.

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Bowler Crab’s artistic director Stephen John said Antony & Cleopatra had been on BC’s shortlist since designs were drawn up back in 2014.

“Shakespeare is what we do and whilst it has been brilliant to return to old favourites such as A Midsummer Night’s Dream recently, pioneering plays we have not yet performed is the mission statement of the company. Antony & Cleopatra is such an incredible play and we have found ourselves baffled throughout the rehearsal process as to why it is not more popular.

“In my mind, Antony & Cleopatra has an odd relationship with its popularity in that there seems to be no reason why it’s not held up in as high esteem as King Lear, Romeo & Juliet or Macbeth. It has a far more realistic outlook on relationships and has volumes and volumes to say about the human condition. And, it’s funny! Really it is. The first half of the play in fact behaves cleverly almost as a comedy does, with witty arguments, superbly relatable commentary and the kind of simple good old fashioned slapstick violence you would see in the Bard’s comedies! Why then is this play so rarely performed?

“For us, it’s a gift to be able to take such a rarely performed play and bring it to our fans and audiences across the 1066 area. It’s a gripping, fast-paced story, Shakespeare having already streamlined historical events to give us only the most entertaining of historic plots. Our version has then had further cuts and now runs at the length that any of Shakespeare’s comedies would at 1h 10m per half.

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“The text itself aside, I think what has been a real joy for this production has been our cast. We have a very strong cast for this production, Antony in the capable hands of BBC actor Jonny Magnanti and Cleopatra being performed by the one-person Shakespeare-powerhouse Emily Carding; these two have been the bow to a very strong ship of cast members, powerful and truthful from front to back. Even our smaller roles have leading-actor quality behind them.

“I haven’t brought a Shakespearean tragedy to Half House Farm since Romeo & Juliet in 2014 and what’s more exciting is that this year we have a new set-up; if it rains or we have bad weather, we now have a large marquee with stage, lights and comfortable seating like a theatre; if it rains or it gets chilly, in we go, drop of a bowler hat.”

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