One important aspect of the Globe to Globe season is its appeal to expatriate communities. On a hot Saturday afternoon the Globe was packed with Turks, young and old, who had come to see this production from Istanbul's Oyun Atölyesi company; and when Haluk Bilginer, who worked in England from 1980 to 1992, made his first appearance as Antony he was greeted with the kind of entrance round of applause that used to be reserved for West End stars.
But I have to say the best thing for me about Kemal Aydogan's briskly traditional production was Zerrin Tekindor's Cleopatra. Famed in Turkey not just as an actor but also as a visual artist, she certainly created quite a picture as Shakespeare's heroine by looking, in her tight-fitting white gown, like Hedy Lamarr's Delilah in the old Cecil B DeMille movie. Tekindor also gave us the full temperamental range of Cleopatra. She hurled herself at an unsuspecting chaise longue in sexual frustration at Antony's absence. Having first displayed her vindictive fury, she went into gales of screeching laughter at the messenger's description of Antony's wife, Octavia. And, even if it seemed much abridged, she captured the majesty of Cleopatra's death. You could well understand why Antony's ghost turned up to take one last look at his Egyptian queen.
That, in truth, was one of the few surprising aspects of Bilginer's stolidly reliable Antony. He had the right look of ruined grandeur and was suitably full of breast-beating anger after the defeat at Actium; what he lacked was much sense of physical enslavement to his captivating Cleopatra. And, although there were some nice economical touches, such as the use of water-pitchers to evoke the sea-battles and good use of a solo woodwind instrument at the climax, there were few fresh insights into character: Kevork Malikyan's Enobarbus seemed strangely marginal, and Mert Firat's Octavius was the usual cold-blooded politician rather than, as in Janet Suzman's recent production, someone secretly enthralled by Antony's charisma. But this, I suspect, was really a production principally for Turkish speakers, who seemed thrilled to see two of their theatre's most famous stars come together.
MICHAEL BILLINGTON / THE GUARDIAN / 28.05.12