Julius Caesar: William Shakespeare
RSC, Main House, Stratford Upon Avon BO: 01789 295623
Runs: 2 ¼ hours, No interval
Review: Rod Dungate, 26 July 2001
Hall’s no messing production has much to offer
Edward Hall has taken some big, bold scissors to Shakespeare’s text – gone are the tiresome citizens who dash about at the opening, gone are the tiresome battle scenes that usually ensure productions totter to a conclusion. Left is a play leaner and fitter and more fitting for our times. The focus is now fairly, squarely and hugely on the shoulders of Cassius, Brutus, Caesar and Anthony. The debate about power and politics couldn’t be clearer.
In this pared-down version the play opens with Caesar striding into his celebrations, He greets the crowds and petals fall on our heads. There is no doubt who is at the centre of the debate.
To further this debate Tim Pigott-Smith and Greg Hicks are a perfect, if unusual, couple. Hicks’s Brutus is more thinker than politician or soldier, a thoroughly decent man. This Brutus is no cold fish: he is a man of passion, his trouble is that he holds it all in, often painfully and always to his own detriment. Pigott-Smith’s Cassius is, by contrast, overtly passionate – he’s one hell of an angry man.
Ian Hogg’s Caesar is at once arrogant, honest, foolish, tetchy, trusting – he is what he is, a human being getting on in years. Tom Mannion’s Mark Anthony is skilfully played. His oration over Caesar is quietly, even haltingly, spoken – until he gets a feel for the crowd and their changing mood that is, then he becomes as much a politician as anyone else.
Hall’s no messing production has much to offer, not least a fine, powerful final moment – many dead soldiers, two dead leaders and, hovering in the background, a fragile, unclothed Caesar.
Director: Edward Hall
Design: Michael Pavelka
Lighting: Ben Ormerod
Music: Simon Slater
Sound: Matt McKenzie
Julius Caesar: Ian Hogg
Calpurnia: Sian Howard
Casca: Colin McCormack
Mark Antony: Tom Mannion
Soothsayer: Chuk Iwuji
Marcus Brutus: Greg Hicks
Portia: Claire Cox
Caius Cassius: Tim Pigott-Smith
Cicero: Michael G Jones
Decius Brutus: Andrew Maud
Cinna: Stuart Goodwin
Metellus Cimber: Charlie Simpson
Trebonius: Damian Kearney
Caius Ligarius: David Mara
Lucius: Tom Harper
Caesar’s Servant: Andrew James Storey
Artemidorus: Conor Moloney
Popilius Lena: Sean Hannaway
Antony’s Servant: Adam Kay
Octavius’s Servant: Anthony Flanagan
Roman Citizen: Penelope Woodman
Cinna the Poet: Sean Hannaway
Octavius Caesar: John Hopkins
Lepidus: Michael G Jones
Lucilius: Finn Caldwell
Pindarus: David Mara