‘Tis paltry to be Caesar (even if he IS really hot)

In college I wrote a paper called “‘Tis paltry to be Caesar” taken from a line from Shakespeare’s Antony and Cleopatra, one of the plays I was writing about. It posited that Shakespeare was a closet feminist and I remember it fondly, not because it was a topic close to my heart (I went to college in the 90s and everything was postmodern, so the class centered on the Shakespearean “other”; I’ve never been much of a postmodernist myself) but because I actually put a lot of effort into it, which was rare. Regardless of why, I was very excited when I saw that the Royal Shakespeare Company was currently performing Antony and Cleopatra (with Patrick Stewart as Antony! “Engage…”) and treated myself to an orchestra ticket.

The production was amazing. It was one of, if not the best, performances I’ve ever seen of anything. The thing is, sure, I dig Cleopatra. She’s a feminist hero, according to my paper at least. The “feminine”, not the absence of masculinity but an entirely independent condition, is represented by Egypt and personified by Cleopatra. She’s the only one who dies a noble death on her own terms; the Romans all kill themselves from shame or fear. Poor Antony, lascivious and ultimately impotent, can’t even kill himself right. He lingers on for a while and begs his soldiers to finish him off. Cleopatra, however, decides she’s not going to be defeated and enslaved, so she dresses in her royal robes and crown and dramatically puts an asp to her breast to poison herself (and how cool is that? Note she doesn’t die on a “sword”. She dies nursing, the ultimate feminine act).

But, God help me, I’ve always had a thing for Caesar. I know he supposedly, in contrast to Cleopatra, represents the “masculine”, but I’ve always read his character to be detatched and logical and slightly baffled with all the debauchery going on around him. In a purely non-metaphorical light he seems to me to be looking at Antony’s eating, drinking and fornicating, and saying, “Hey, what the fuck? We have a world to run, remember? Can you please put the turkey leg down?” To me he is the least manipulative of all the characters, except for maybe Antony who’s just kind of dumb.

Caesar in this production was played as young, slightly awkward and hypersensitive. And hot, although that’s probably just incidental to the actor. His name is John Hopkins and if you ever have a chance to see him in anything (even without Patrick Stewart) you should do it.

This production was the real thing. I’ve never seen Shakespeare performed with such fluency, such skill, which makes sense because, you know, it is the Royal Shakespeare Company. It was the coolest thing I’ve seen since I’ve been here. This is why I moved to London.

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~ by kellly333 on January 17, 2007.

7 Responses to “‘Tis paltry to be Caesar (even if he IS really hot)”

  1. Truly I am jealous. Now you’re just rubbing it in. In the states we get treated to the likes of Leonoardo Dicaprio and Katie Holmes doing Midsummer Night’s Dream. You get Patrick Stewart doing A&C.

  2. Albany, postmodern? Never! And may I add, that your blog is incredibly well written. I enjoy your semicolon usage.

  3. I do kind of have a fetish for semicolons.

  4. This blog is one of my new daily pleasures.

  5. Now if you master the ellipsis and other extant diacritcal marks I will be REALLY impressed!

  6. I am getting impatient. Please post more!

  7. I dun seen that one with my mum. Why you say nothing of Harriet Walter? She was a-w-e-s-o-m-e too.

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