Theatre: Antony and Cleopatra

Following the assassination of Julius Caesar and the battle of Philippi, Mark Antony, Octavius Caesar and Lepidus are the joint rulers of the known world. Antony, however, is captivated by Cleopatra, Queen of Egypt, and neglects his responsibilities to spend time with her in Alexandria. This scandal is the talk of Rome and creates a rift between Antony and young Octavius Caesar. News comes from Rome that Antony's wife is dead. More urgently, the power of the triumvirate is being challenged by Pompey. Antony is forced to return to Rome and resume his responsibilities. When it is suggested that he should cement the alliance with Octavius by marrying his sister, Octavia, Antony agrees. Back in Egypt, the news of Antony's marriage sends Cleopatra into a jealous tirade. On the brink of war, Antony and Octavius make peace with Pompey. Shortly afterwards, however, Antony learns that not only has Octavius attacked Pompey after all, but he has also spoken scornfully of Antony in public and has had Lepidus imprisoned on dubious charges. Antony sends Octavia back to negotiate with her brother while he returns secretly to Alexandria. News arrives in Rome that Antony and Cleopatra have crowned themselves and their children kings and queens in Alexandria. Octavius declares war on Egypt. The Egyptian forces lose the sea-battle of Actium when Antony deserts the battle to follow Cleopatra's fleeing ship. Antony is consumed with shame and despair. However, hearing that Octavius has offered to make a secret treaty with Cleopatra, he rouses himself for a second, victorious battle. On the eve of the third battle, Antony's soldiers are nervous and fear bad omens. Even the faithful Enobarbus deserts him. The Egyptian fleet surrenders and Antony, in his fury, accuses Cleopatra of betraying him to Octavius. She retreats from his anger to her monument and sends a false report that she is dead. On hearing this, Antony attempts suicide and is brought to Cleopatra's monument to die in her arms. Rather than be captured and enslaved by the Romans, Cleopatra also kills herself. With all his enemies eliminated, Octavius returns victorious to Rome.

Mark Antony...................Denis Quilley
Cleopatra.......................Diana Rigg
Octavius Caesar...............Philip Franks
Octavia.........................Charmian Gradwell

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