Shakespeare’s Plays

British stars are taking to the stage in William Shakespeare’s tragedy Antony & Cleopatra at the National Theatre. Antony will be played by Ralph Fiennes, who is best known for his roles in the Harry Potter  and James Bond film series and for Broadway’s Hamlet, for which he won a Tony Award. Joining him as Cleopatra will be Sophie Okonedo, who starred in the 2004 film Hotel Rwanda and Broadway’s A Raisin in the Sun, for which she won her Tony Award.  She has also been nominated for a Golden Globe, Academy and Bafta Award, and was awarded an OBE by the Queen for her services to drama.

In the play, general Mark Antony takes the Roman reins, but a power struggle ensues with his rival Octavius. When Antony falls in love with the Egyptian queen, Cleopatra, he is distracted by his feelings and loses a key battle. Keen to win back his love, Cleopatra fakes her death – only for her plan to backfire. As well as making it shorter, director Simon Godwin has set this version in modern dress, but you can expect the usual themes of power and passion. The epic play with be broadcast live in cinemas later in the year (6 December) www.nationaltheatre.org.uk

Shakespeare fans will be delighted to know that there are plenty of his plays on this month. At the Donmar Warehouse, artistic director Josie Rourke will direct his comedy Measure for Measure (from 28 September). In this version, the leads swap roles: Hayley Atwell and Jack Lowden alternate the roles halfway through, and some of the scenes are even replayed – www.donmarwarehouse.com

If you dont love Shakespeare so much that you dont mind what you see, visit Shakespeare’s Globe on 9 September and vote for your favourite play from a choice of The Taming of the Shrew, The Merchant of Venice and Twelfth Night. The winner will then be performed. www.shakespearesglobe.com

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