Antony and Cleopatra - William Shakespeare, Cynthia Marshall, Barbara A. Mowat, Paul Werstine “I am fire and air; my other elements I give to baser life.” Act 5, scene 2, lns 344-345. So begins Cleopatra’s suicide. Though a legendary queen, she is a willing servant to her own passions. She identifies with them and lives according to their whims. Even Antony’s Roman discipline cannot resist their demands.

However, grand gestures and grand ambitions lead to little depth. Their love is a public, and political, affair. There are no private moments that suggest that there is anything more to their connection other than power, office and lust. It’s a love that is designed to be worn by The General and the Queen. One of the most tragic moments, Cleopatra’s suicide, seems more about avoiding humiliation at the hands of Octavia than an expression over Antony.

It is, in the end, a history. More similar to the Henry tetralogies than the tragedies. Had this been one of Shakespeare’s earlier plays, I may not have minded it as much. But, to come to this after Hamlet, Macbeth and Othello, it seemed considerably dryer and superficial.