The State of Wonder
Unity Theatre
17th - 18th March 2006

Reviewed by Helen Grey

Most people will be familiar with the image of the great Elizabeth Taylor dripping in gold and wearing enough eyeliner to keep Max Factor in profits for a year in the 1963 film ‘Cleopatra’. Alas in The State of Wonder’s hour-long version there was no gold, no eyeliner and no fancy dresses, but there was quite a lot of skipping.

This production was set in the modern day, but still referred to the Roman republic and ancient Egypt. The cast of three were dressed accordingly - Cleopatra in a red cotton dress with black trousers and Mark Anthony and Octavian were in green military attire. And they skipped - a lot. To be fair the cast didn’t just use the skipping ropes to skip, they used them to wiggle about on the floor and to twirl above their heads. Frankly it was just distracting. Aside from that, some of the performances were fairly strong, especially from Daniel Settatree who played Mark Anthony. Cleopatra was a little disappointing; Paula Simms didn’t play her mad enough to be convincingly mad or strong enough to be convincingly strong. The script was a good and historically accurate one that could have been transferred into an interesting play, but the director tried a little hard to make it modern and edgy, which in turn caused the play as a whole to lose some of its appeal.

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