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Thursday, Aug. 29, 2013

APT’s ‘Antony and Cleopatra’

A modern adaptation in an intimate setting

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Is there such a thing as an “intimate epic”? If so, then perhaps American Players Theatre’s production of Antony and Cleopatra fits the bill. This pared-down version of Shakespeare’s historical tragedy opened Aug. 17 in APT’s Touchstone Theatre.

Kate Buckley, who directs the show, and James DeVita, who stars as Mark Antony, have adapted the sprawling tale of love and war between Rome and Egypt to a size more manageable for the indoor facility’s small thrust stage. The work of more than 30 characters is shouldered by just seven, some of whom have traded their togas for tuxedos in this modern-day adaptation.

Considered one of Shakespeare’s most complex female characters, Cleopatra is masterfully played by Tracy Michelle Arnold, who deftly moves between her roles as Antony’s seductress and the queen of Egypt. DeVita fills the stage with energy, chewing through the Bard’s thick dialogue and creating a vivid portrait of a centurion torn between passion for his queen and obedience to Rome.

In this case, it’s not hard to guess which one wins. While some of the action seems a bit abrupt, little of the grandeur is lost in APT’s last production of the season.

Antony and Cleopatra runs through Oct. 20. For tickets call 608-588-2361 or visit americanplayers.org.

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