(Laura Collins-Hughes’s article appeared in The New York Times, 10/3; via Pam Green.)

George Bernard Shaw gets sensitively streamlined in a briskly entertaining production with winning performers at its center.

At first glance, Cleopatra seems every inch an ordinary teenager. In a ponytail and sneakers, her white pants rolled up below her knees, she’s hiding from Caesar’s approaching army. A stranger appears, and she urges him to save himself.

“Climb up here,” she says, “or the Romans’ll come and eat you.”

She has no inkling that the mild man before her is Caesar himself. In George Bernard Shaw’s “Caesar & Cleopatra,” adapted and directed by David Staller in a briskly entertaining, winningly down-to-earth revival for Gingold Theatrical Group, the young queen of Egypt is charming in her naïveté.

Of course she is, right? Much like Eliza Doolittle in Shaw’s later play “Pygmalion,” she’s raw female material, ready for molding by an expert male hand. Shaw liked that dynamic. But he also genuinely liked women as human beings, intellectual sparring partners and actors. The parts he wrote for them have real substance.

Teresa Avia Lim digs into this role with a vengeance, delivering a smartly calibrated comic performance. A blustering, artless kid as the play begins, Cleopatra is amused by her new mystery acquaintance, who stays mum about his identity as she mulls how to get the upper hand with the Romans.

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Photo credit: Carol Rosegg

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