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Synetic Theater's Antony and Cleopatra

Adapted from William Shakespear by Paata Tsikurshvill and Nathan Weinberger
Directed by Paata Tsikurishvili
Lansburgh Theatre, 450 7th St. NW


Commentary by Grace Cavalieri


Why comment on a play that is going to close on Sunday?

Because now that there is no blizzard, we should walk in the winter on cold stone in bare feet to see this, if we can. If weather prevented you, as it did me, from attending earlier, now is the time. I don’t often harass readers to love what I love but if this is my one card, I will play it. The Synetic is unlike any theater I have seen in 50 years of sitting in the audience. It is described as physical theater without a text. Yet what really describes this is to say that the spiritual is made manifest in the physical. Worth the price of a ticket. Yes? The actors are movers, dancers, acrobats. They are sculptures; it is a fluid poem without interruption of image, sound and passion that makes you think we will live forever.

The first Synetic production I saw was “Romeo and Juliet.” What is the crucial moment in that play? The moment when the message is not received by lovers that a death will be faked. And so Romeo and Juliet each die thinking the other is dead. Synetic opened “Romeo and Juliet” with a huge clock on stage, cogs and wheels making evident the essence of the play. The essence makes the reality. I was anxious to see the opening image of “Antony and Cleopatra” and I was not disappointed. The first image is of a “creature,” a body moving like a snake (Is it death? Is the villain love?) who at the end will outstretch his hand to give Cleopatra the asp for her death. Unity, Symmetry, Beauty. The elements of art attended to like no other you will see.

Egypt is a small golden hand-held pyramid, the world is a glowing ball, Small things are the same as big when we are dealing with spirit; props move of their own accord, scenery breaks and comes together. Sound is a character summoning action, seducing, frightening, foretelling. Masks and costumes change, surprise, take your breath away. Every arrangement of the ensemble is a composition in visual art. Blood on a cloth will make you weep. Add to this the physical – bodies which must surprise God. Now add to the precision of movement the MEANING of movement. Love and power all told in a 95-minute span you will not forget. The final image is Cleopatra as statue, made of gold, in golden light, immortalized, showered in sands of gold. All I can say to Synetic is “Thank you.”

Playing through Feb. 28. www.synetic theater.org. The next Synetic production is Kafka’s Metamorphosis, opening April 9 at the Rosslyn Spectrum Theater.

Directed by Paata Tsikurishvili; Choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili; Set, Costumes, Prop Design, Anastasia Rurikov Simes; Lighting, Colin K. Bills; Original music, Konstantine Lortkipanidze; Sound Design, Iraki Kavsadze and Konstantine Lortkipanidze; Fight Choreography, Ben Cunis.

Cast: Cleopatra, Irina Tsikurishvili; Antony, Ben Cunis; Cassius, Scott Brown; Octavian, Philip Fletcher, Eros, Chris Galindo; Caesar, Irakli Kavsadze; Mardian, Spirit, Alex Mills; Brutus, Peter Pereyra; Pompey, Ben Russo; Enobarbus, Ryan Sellers; Ptolemy, Vato Tsikurishvili; Octavia, Mary Werntz; plus ensemble.


Grace Cavalieri is a Playwright, a Poet, and Producer of “The Poet and the Poem from the Library of Congress" on public radio.

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