JULIUS CAESAR: William Shakespeare.
Runs: 2h 15m, no interval.
RST, Stratford Upon Avon, till 07 07 12
Then tour till 27 10 12 (Details below)
Review: Alexander Ray, 06 06 12
A fresh and invigoration exploration.
JULIUS CAESAR is a political play; it’s also a tricky play. Gregory Doran takes both these issues on and means business. To take the second first . . .
The play has an inbuilt structural problem. A strong narrative leads up to the death of Caesar; this is swiftly followed by the intense and dramatic forum scene in which Brutus and Antony vie for common support. After that the play becomes a sequence of battle ground scenes in which the centre of the play shifts from drama to debate, and dramatic tension is not to the fore. Doran solves the schizophrenic nature of the play by presenting it with no interval. This, and some terrific acting, almost solves the problem – which is about as good as it can get. Quite a long sit though.
Doran’s investigation of the play’s politics is achieved by setting the play in South Africa and engaging a black cast. This is hugely successful. Not only do the machinations of the soldiers-cum-politicians (and vice versa) become immediate in the SA police-army fatigues, but Doran makes sweeping political statements at the same time. About the all pervasive corrupting influence of power, for instance, and also, possibly, about the way he wishes to see the RSC sit within the UK’s diverse communities when he takes over the RSC reins. Clever, yes; enlightening, very much so.
Strong acting from this ensemble. Jeffery Kissoon’s Caesar is a slightly eccentric leader, but sudden flashes of fury lead us to fear a tyrant lurking below the surface. Ray Fearon is a charismatic Mark Antony. Fabulous in ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen . . . ‘ he wind the crowd up emotionally, he winds them up physically too, leaving himself dancing alone with surprise or glee. Glee as it turns out, when we see him later, tearing up the prop will he’s used. Great theatre moment, that.
Paterson Joseph and Cyril Nri (Brutus and Cassius) create an electric bond between them. Ann Ogbomo and Adjoa Andoh (Calpurnia and Portia) make their presence felt more powerfully than is usually the case. And a word must be said for Simon Manyonda’s Lucius, a fresh and uncorrupted naïve honesty.
(Tour details below)
Julius Caesar: Jeffery Kissoon
Calpurnia: Ann Ogbomo
Marcus Brutus: Paterson Joeph
Portia: Adjoa Andoh
Caius Cassius: Cyril Nri
Casca: Joseph Mydell
Cinna, The Conspirator: Chinna Wodu
Metellus Cimber: Mark Theodore
Trebonius: Segun Akingbola
Caius Ligarius: Ewart James Walters
Mark Antony: Ray Fearson
Octavius Caesar: Ivanno Jeremiah
Lepidus: Ewanrt James Walters
Cicero: Ricky Fearon
Publius: Marcus Griffiths
Popilius: Ricky Fearon
Marullus: Marcus Griffiths
Flavius: Segun Akingbola
A Soothsayer: Theo Ogundipe
Artemidorus: Mark Egulue
Cinna, The Poet: Jude Owusu
Caesar’s Servant: Samantha Lawson
Antony’s Servant: Juse Owusu
Octavius’ Servant: Maracus Griffiths
A Carpenter: Mark Ebulue
A Cobbler: Ricky Fearson
Lucius: Simon Manyonda
Pindarus: Marcus Griffiths
Lucilius: Ricky Fearon
Titinius: Andrew French
Messala: Mark Theodore
Cato: Mark Ebulue
Varro: Segun Akingbola
Clitus: Chinna Wodu
Directed by: Gregory Doran
Designed by: Michael Vale
Lighting Designed by: Vince Herbert
Music by: Akintayo Akinbode
Sound Designed by: Jonathan Ruddick
Movement by: Dianne Alison-Mitchell
Fights by: Kev McCurdy
Dialect Coach: Penny Dyer
Company Text and Voice Work by: Lyn Darnley
Associate Director: Gbolahan Obisesan
Tour details (www.rsc.org.uk)
20 05 – 07 07 RST
19 – 28 07 Theatre Royal Newcastle upon Tyne
08 08 -22 09 Noel Coward, London
19 – 22 09 Waterside, Aylesbury
25 – 29 09 Alhambra, Bradford
2 – 6 10 Lowry, Salford
16 – 20 10 Royal, Norwich
23 – 27 10 New, Cardiff