2001: Antony and Cleopatra

Since 1991, the Quenington Old Rectory River Garden productions of the Cotswold Arcadians had been set in many different époques — Shakespeare's own period, the 1930s, the 1950s and the late 1980s — but never, until then, had a play been set in BC 42-30 when, of course, the events portrayed in Antony and Cleopatra did, in reality, take place.

Antony and Cleopatra is perhaps the most quoted of all Shakespeare's plays, and contains a richness and sophistication in text that is not really matched in any of his other works.

The characters portrayed in the play are giants of our common classical heritage.  Whilst Antony and Cleopatra themselves have become bywords for doomed victims of impossible love (providing a poignant re-exploration of the Romeo and Juliet predicament in middle age, and with an equally tragic ending), the towering presence of other characters like Octavius Caesar — destined to become the first Emperor of Rome (Augustus Caesar), and the Emperor who was ruling (appropriately) two thousand years ago — bring to the play an unmistakable reflection of present day political manoeuvring, in which 'affairs of the heart' can (and predictably still do) so often destroy promising careers.