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Julius Cesar artwork

all about theatre 3 star review

This production of Julius Caesar forms part of the RSC's Power Shifts season, a season which includes re-imaginings of 6 plays which explore shifting lines of power. Shakespeare was fascinated by power, who has it, how might it corrupt us, how do we use it for good, for change, for peace.

Julius Caesar is a historical play and tragedy by William Shakespeare, it was first performed back in 1599 and has been entertaining audiences now for over 400 years. This production directed by Atri Banerjee has been conceived and made in collaboration with eight national theatre partners, engaging a chorus of community leaders in each venue, to add their voices to the production

Julius Cesar production shot Caesar

In the war against Pompey Caesar (Nigel Barrett) returns to Rome Triumphant, as a result the republic want to bestow upon him new honours. This causes concern against some senators who fear that too much power is held by one person. Cassius (Annabel Baldwin) a politician plots a conspiracy to murder Caesar as she resents how Caesar has become a God like figure and is jealous of Caesar's rise to power. Cassius enlists the support of Brutus (Thalissa Teixeira), Brutus is Caesar's friend and is an honourable person but is persuaded that Caesar death is necessary for the greater good of Rome. Brutus does however reject Cassius's proposal that Caesars friend Mark Anthony ( William Robinson) should also die. Brutus, Cassius and their co-conspirators assassinate Caesar by stabbing him to death at the senate house on the Ides of March. At Caesar's funeral Brutus explains to the people the conspirators motives for assassinating Caesar.

Mark Anthony also speaks at Caesar's funeral and turns the people against the conspirators who are forced to flee Rome. Mark Anthony and Caesars niece Octavius (Ella Dacres) take command of Rome and lead an army against the conspirators resulting in a civil war. Brutus and Cassius end up losing the war and they kill themselves, leaving Mark Anthony to rule Rome.

Julius Cesar production shot mark Anthony

This version of Julius Caesar is quite stylized it's been modernized and some of the main roles are now played by women, so Brutus, Cassius and Octavius are woman in this production.

For the most part the gander change of these characters worked well but for some parts

of the play the script had not been altered to account for the gender change as Brutus at one point in the play is referred to as a "honourable man" which is a little bit confusing. I don't know why they didn't just change it to honourable woman if they wanted the characters to be perceived as women. It maybe because this is from a famous speech in the play so maybe they didn't want to change it but it just didn't make sense for them to be called an honourable man.

Julius Cesar production shot Brutus

I wasn't that impressed with the costumes for this production, the characters were all in modern dress and looked like they were going to work at an office. Maybe that was the idea to make them look more like the politicians and leaders of todays society but the costumes didn't really help to distinguish the characters and their rolls as they were all dressed quite similarly with a monochromatic pallet. One thing that I also found a bit weird was that their were no weapons in the play so when they killed Julius Caesar there were no daggers used they basically had black ink on their hands and they sort of patted him with their inky hands covering him in the black ink, so the scene for me fell a bit flat and didn't seem as powerful as it has in other productions of the play. I'm not quite sure why they chose to use black ink rather than red blood obviously on a darkened stage black doesn't stand out as much as Red would have but I guess it went with the monochrome look they seem to be going for with this production.

Julius Cesar production shot

I actually quite liked the set even though it was quite simple, when you first walked in to the auditorium you saw what look like a giant cube in the middle of the stage, this was rotated during the show to reveal different rooms and again the rooms were all very simple but sort of worked for the way the production is stylized. The show also used some projections which were projected on to this cube.

The cast for this play was just excellent, the Shakespearean text was spoken really clearly making it easy to understand and follow. Stand out performances for me came from Annabelle Baldwin as Cassius who I thought engaged well with the audience and also William Robinson as Mark Anthony, he delivered Anthony's famous speech superbly.

I did enjoy this production of Julius Caesar and it was definitely original but I just wasn't a fan of the dark monochromatic styling of the production and So I gave this production Three Stars.

The RSC's Julius Caesar is on at The Lowry until 24th June you can purchase tickets by clicking on the button below.

If you would like more information about the play please click the button below to go to The RSC's official website.

*Our tickets for this show were kindly gifted in exchange for an honest review


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