POST: 'Charles Busch's Cleopatra' - still remaining fierce

What's it about?

Cleopatra in a light that you’ve never seen her (or shall I say him) before. Surrounded by servants and disposable loved ones, Cleopatra illustrates how to deal with difficult situations while still remaining fierce.

What'd I experience?

Charles Busch is Cleopatra in this play. As soon as he came out in full Cleopatra regalia I didn't know that he was her until he started to talk. My reaction was priceless...

Cleopatra’s a man? Oh, this is going to be a good one! I’m in for a treat!

I actually don't even know why I was so intrigued that a man was playing Cleopatra. I guess it was because I have always thought of Cleopatra as a statuesque woman. A dazzling, charming, exquisite woman who embodies all the characteristics and attributes of every woman. So when I realized that she was a man I had to recognize that it was an amazing plot twist. To see a man become the epitome of a female who is looked at as Egyptian royalty had me captivated.

The setting was Ancient Rome, Egypt and environs, 48 B.C. but the entire play felt like it could have happened today. Let me be honest for a second, as soon as I read in the playbill the year “48 B.C.” I was like…

…I mean who wants to sit through a play where people are using old, retired, ancient vocabulary like “thou, sayeth, shalt, etc.” I know I don't, and as much as you’re probably trying to justify how you would power through an ancient play I know deep down inside you feel the same way. 

Although the playbill said “48 B.C.” I was pleased to learn that I didn’t have anything to worry about. They didn’t use any of the old vocabulary at all. As a matter of fact this play was so modern that at one point when Cleopatra had to leave Egypt she told her assistant Charmion, We must not forget to pick up new hair in Memphis.

In that moment I knew that this was my kind of Cleopatra, always on the go but still always in touch with looking as fierce as can be.

There wasn't a scene where Cleopatra's hair, accessories, or outfit altogether were not on point. She had an outfit that was entirely green from head to toe (it reminded me of money) so you know I had to enjoy that. The outfit consisted of a train like a wedding dress, and I love a good long dramatic train. A long train just embodies luxury and fashionable drama.

One thing that Cleopatra knew how to do was color coordinate. If she was wearing a purple necklace trust and believe the entire outfit would be purple. It was all so over the top just like me!

Even though all her outfits were on point you must know that I had a favorite. It was an outfit that was made out of gold! When the spotlight hit her with that gold dress my eyes got wide and my jaw dropped at the same time.

In that very moment was ready for the play to end right there, right now! It looked so heavy but so worth the work out. It was all so fabulous the way she would move around the stage with gold chains and bracelets all over her body as if it didn't weigh one single ounce.

Each and every outfit was so spectacular and over the top. In almost every scene she had a statement piece that was oh so shiny. Whether it was a necklace, a bracelet, or a head piece it was glistening for days!

Those extraordinary outfit changes reminded me why I fell in love with theater. It took me back to the first show I’ve ever seen on Broadway when I was in 6th grade, The Little Mermaid. I remember how amazed I was at the fabulous life sized costumes. The notion that the real Ariel and Sebastian are basically right in front of me was an experience I could never forget. Costumes really bring an element to theatre that enhances my experience, so when Cleopatra was glistening with every ensemble I was so pleased.

It’s been a while since I’ve seen a play that incorporates outstanding ensembles and Cleopatra was the perfect play to fulfill my needy marvelous costume withdrawals.


Want to see it?

$25 Tickets

Charles Busch's Cleopatra
Theatre for a New City
thru Apr. 17