JULIUS CAESAR: William Shakespeare.
Runs: 2h 55m, one interval, in repertory till 2 October
Review: Rod Dungate, 26 May 2009.
Some interesting details, not so hot on the whole.
Violence underpins Lucy Bailey’s production. As we enter the auditorium Romulus and Remus fight it out to the death; violence supports the Roman state – and it’s the foundation upon which this play is built.
Within an almost bare setting, the canvas upon which William Dudley’s filmed settings are displayed, there is an exciting contrast between the vast public arenas and the private rooms in which the first half’s action takes place. You sense, too, the huge numbers of people caught up in the ruling elite’s power struggle; rulers declaim to the public or they plot in darkened rooms. And the world around them is unsettled, fragile.
This is all exciting stuff; but at the end of the day these elements form a backdrop to the performances. And the performances in this production, while not actually bad, are often not strong enough to carry the play.
Greg Hicks plays Caesar; he creates a very human Caesar, changeable, irascible, arrogant and surprisingly often, humorous. But Caesar dies halfway through and much weight must fall on the shoulders of Brutus and Cassius.
Sam Troughton’s Brutus has a personality that would draw you to him but lacks the authority Brutus needs; Brutus may be honest, distant, to a certain extent politically inept, but we have to believe that he’s someone the other conspirators must bring on board. And we don’t believe it. Troughton injects great energy and passion into the role but doesn’t handle the text skilfully enough; lines are illogically chopped and broken giving an effect of peevish anger. John MacKay creates a smouldering Cassius but, at the moment, lacks sufficient danger. Together they lack the weight to hold the second half together.
Darrell D’Silva makes an unusual Mark Antony. There is nothing of a romantic hero in this portrayal; here is a soldier through and through. He’s rough, brutal and politically adept. Oliver Ryan’s dark and cynical Casca has much to offer too; this is a character I’d certainly be afraid of.
Lucy Bailey has interesting ideas but in implementing them has lost sight of the story she needs to tell and the overarching framework within which it’s told.
Julius Caesar: Greg Hicks.
Calphurnia: Noma Dumezweni.
Portia: Hanna Young.
Lucius: Tunji Kasim.
Romulus: Tunji Kasim.
Remus: Joseph Arkley.
Marcus Brutus: Sm Troughton.
Cassius: John MacKay.
Casca: Oliver Ryan.
Decius Brutus: Brian Doherty.
Cinna: Gruffudd Glyn.
Trebonius: David Rubin.
Metellus Cimber: Adam Burton.
Caius Ligarius: Paul Hamilton.
Cicero: Ewen Cummins.
Publius: Patrick Romer.
Popilius: Phillip Edgerley.
Mark Antony: Darrell D’Silva.
Octavius Caesar: Joseph Arkley.
Lepidus: Ewen Cummins.
Flavius: Phillip Edgerley.
Murullus: Patrick Romer.
Atemidorus: Joseph Arkley.
A Soothsayer: Larrington Walker.
Soothsayer’s Acolyte: Samantha Young.
Cinna the Poet: Patrick Romer.
Caesar’s Servant: Ewen Cummins.
Calphurnia’s Servant: Simone Saunders.
Antony’s Servant: Phillip Edgerley.
Octavius’ servant: Larrington Walker.
Priestess: Kirsty Woodward.
Lucilius: David Rubin.
Pindarus: Oliver Ryan.
Titinus: adam Burton.
A Poet: Brian Doherty.
Messala: Paul Hamilton
Young Cato: Gruffudd Glyn.
Strato: Larrington Waker.
Clitus: Patrick Romer.
Dardanius: Ewen Cummins.
Volumnius: Phillip Edgerley.
Directed by: Lucy Bailey.
Set and Video Designed by: William Dudley.
Costumes Designed by: Fotini Dimou.
Lighting Designed by: Oliver Fenwick.
Movement by: Sarah Dowling.
Music by: Django Bates.
Sound Designed by: Fergus O’Hare.
Associate Designer: Nathalie Maury.
Fights by: Philip d’Orleans.
Video System Design by : Alan Cox.
Video Production by: Tim Baxter.
Company Text and Voice Work by: Lyn Darnley.
Additional Company Movement Work buy: Struan Leslie and Lucy Cullingford.
Assistant Director: Justin Audibert.
Assistant Composer: Tim Adnitt.
Music Director: Bruce O’Neil.
Casting by: Hanna Miller.