by William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare’s Globe 21 New Globe Walk SE In rep to 11 October 2014.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 020 7401 9919.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 2 July.
Lively, energetic, and strong on the plotting.
Julius Caesar is a play of two unequal halves. The longer first section is full of plotting, while the second is a looser heap of arguments and battles. Dominic Dromgoole’s energetic production does well by the first part, but for once the Globe’s open-air Elizabethan stage dissipates the action as the Roman factions move towards their show-down eastwards at Philippi.
Playwright William Shakespeare didn’t help himself by killing-off his titular protagonist towards the end of the first half. Caesar – mover, shaker – is the most interesting character (it takes generations of scholarly commentators to make-out that Brutus, nearest in character to a scholarly commentator, matters more. Though his persona is influential; who wouldn’t buy into a second-hand conspiracy if it came with his name attached?).
Shakespeare appears aware that history let him down, and re-introduces Caesar as one of the limited number of ghosts sprinkled through his plays. George Irving, whose living Caesar has an impressive detachment in his unconscious arrogance and loftiness, brings a quiet authority when his spirit promises to see Brutus again at Philippi, and Dromgoole intensifies the point by his role at Brutus’ death – so “Caesar, now be still” is spoken directly to the man who died asking "Et tu Brute?".
Events open with a festival atmosphere amid a Roman celebration, if not a public holiday, and the interplay of stage and ground-level is well used to create both a sense of class and of social disruption as a Citizen climbs onstage to cheek a Tribune. Later, the Roman crowd offer loud mockery from the safety of the audience.
It’s a busy, bustling world, where Caesar’s wife Calpurnia barely shows embarrassment when her husband announces her infertility to all around and where Portia needs to assert she loves her husband Brutus when her fears for his safety emerge as annoyance. And, in speaking to the crowd, Luke Thompson’s Anthony is masterful in self-deprecation, irony and skilled manipulation.
This stands strongly among recent Caesars; if the later scenes hadn’t fallen into more generalised recrimination and loss of pointed energy, this might have been the finest production of them all.
Portia/2nd Plebeian/Citizen: Catherine Bailey.
Marullus/Caius Ligarius/Clitus/Poet/Citizen: Sam Cox.
Flavius/Cinna/Lepidus/Dardanius/Claudius/Citizen: Patrick Driver.
Cassius: Anthony Howell.
Julius Caesar/Ghost of Caesar: George Irving.
Octavius Caesar/Trebonius/Cobbler/Citizen: Joe Jameson.
Servant/Pindarus/Soothsayer/Messenger/Citizen: Tom Kanji.
Casca/Varro/Volumnius: Christopher Logan.
Brutus: Tom McKay.
Cinna a poet/Metellus Cimber/titinius/Citizen: William Mannering.
Lucius/Young Cato: Keith Ramsay.
Messala/Cicero/Artemidorus/Servant of Antony/Citizen: Paul Rider.
Calpurnia/1st Plebeian/Citizen: Katy Stephens.
Mark Antony: Luke Thompson.
Decius Brutus/Lucilius: Dickon Tyrell.
Citizens: Rupert Baldwin, Will Bridges, Matt Doherty, Roman Lagnado, Jessie Lilley, Claire Lowrie, Benjamin Jason Reeves, Peter Saracen, Aaron Thiara.
Director: Dominic Dromgoole.
Designer: Jonathan Fensom.
Composer: Claire van Kampen.
Choreographer: Siân Williams.
Fight director: Kevin McCurdy.
Voice/Dialect: Martin McKellan.
Globe Associate – Text: Giles Block.
Globe Associate – Movement: Glynn MacDonald.
Assistant director: Tatty Hennessy.
Assistant text: Zoe Ford.