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Caesar and Cleopatra (1898)

by George Bernard Shaw

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548934,589 (3.76)8
"Caesar and Cleopatra" satirizes Shakespeares use of history and comments wryly on the politics of Shaws own time, but the undertone of melancholy makes it one of his most affecting plays.

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Review of two audio recordings: BBC 1980 and Caedmon 1965. The former is a studio production, and the later a recorded stage performance. The Caedmon performance is better due to a veteran stage production, and Claire Bloom as Cleopatra. This is a grand story that follows well known historical events including the affair between the title couple, the invasion of Alexandria, burning of the library, and some murders. It is Shakespearean. Checking the Wikipedia plot summary (tagged as "too long") one can see how much is in this under two-hour play. The intellectual themes Shaw is aiming for are now mostly dated. Enjoy as an entertaining if not a little dense retelling of historical events, it would have made a magnificent contemporary production with costume and sets. ( )
  Stbalbach | Mar 10, 2021 |
This was a great play, rife with action and drama, by Shaw. He manages to reach for complex themes and deep character development, primarily of Caesar and Cleopatra but also of the surrounding characters which populate this play. So much was done in such a short space of time and the dialogue had a ring of truth and literary prowess that I was impressed with. Overall, it was an exceptional work of drama.

4 stars and well earned at that! ( )
  DanielSTJ | Oct 28, 2019 |
Lovely play but I was at a loss to imagine a successful staging. This is vast and epic while insistently self aware, emplacing it’s own sense of history upon a lineage we believe to know from another play by that one guy.

The characterization of Cleopatra as a petulant teen was remarkable—especially in contrast to a stolid weariness from Julius Caesar. The role of vengeance as a historical engine is explored as is the all too human notions of sovereignty.

I should read more Shaw. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
M100 General Works
  TLH7718 | Dec 15, 2017 |
Delightful play on the interaction between J. Caesar, here presented by Shaw as a wise avuncular idealist, and Cleopatra, the giggly teenage queen of Egypt. Caesar teaches her to be a real queen and to use her power wisely. Shaw's wit was much in evidence throughout. For comparison I read the text at the same time as I viewed the 1945 Rains/Leigh movie. The script kept the dialogue nearly intact. I regretted the deletion of the stage directions from the movie; I thought them equally as clever as the dialogue with Shaw's sardonicism. This is one not to be missed, a double treat if you read/view it as I did. ( )
1 vote janerawoof | Jun 8, 2015 |
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He who has never hoped can never despair.
When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.
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"Caesar and Cleopatra" satirizes Shakespeares use of history and comments wryly on the politics of Shaws own time, but the undertone of melancholy makes it one of his most affecting plays.

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