(Lynn Gardner's review ran in the Guardian, 11/21.) 

The Roman Tragedies

Barbican, London

Shakespeare gets a close-up in Toneelgroep's compression of three plays – Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra – a remarkable six-hour marathon played without an interval. If that sounds like a penance, think again: this is an exhilarating pleasure. Director Ivo van Hove gleefully reinvents these tragedies of private obsessions and passions, political ambitions and expediency to make it seem as if Shakespeare is not only our contemporary but only finished writing the plays this morning. The final hour of the final play, Antony and Cleopatra, is about as good as theatre gets; combining astonishingly inventive stagecraft with glorious acting, raw as an open wound, totally invested and decidedly unpretty. I'd happily see it all again for those 60 minutes.


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