RSC ROMAN SEASON, 4****, London

London.
ROME MMXVll
RSC Barbican season
JULIUS CAESAR & ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA
In repertory with Corilanus.

4****

The Barbican Theatre, Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8BDS to 20 January 2018.
Check performance times with theatre.
Plays runs 3 hr One interval.

TICKETS: 020 7638 8891
www.barbican.org.uk
Review: William Russell 12 December.

A finely performed marathon to enjoy

Seeing both plays on the same day is rewarding, but at the same time it is a long haul as, in spite of everything, there are moments when the plots get incredibly tangled and had to follow. These are two well performed, clearly spoken – Shakespeare can sound like a foreign language – and impressively directed productions which, if they prove someone’s introduction to the Bard, could hardly be bettered.
Julius Caesar directed by Angus Jackson proved to be an ensemble affair – there were fine performances, Andrew Woodall was a statuesque Caesar, James Corrigan a dashing Antony, but what one remembers is not the individual playing but the way the story is told. Watch how the assassins gather round Caesar when he makes the mistake of going to the Senate – they are like a pack of wolves descending on their prey, hovering, tentative, waiting for someone to strike before all strike – and last of all is Brutus – Alex Waldmann rather less commanding a figure than sometimes he is made.

One knows Caesar is going to be killed, but director Angus Jackson has choreographed it beautifully so that when it happens it is shocking. The same goes for his use of the mob persuaded initially by Brutus that Caesar was a tyrant, and then the mood is totally transformed once Mark Anthony delivers his address. Both Waldman as Brutus and Corrigan as Antony are very good, speak the verse with clarity, but these are not star performances, they are not grandstanding as star actors so often do in these roles.

Woodall manages to keep one interested in the politics and in the aftermath as the conspirators fall out and Antony wins the day with the noblest Roman of them all falling on his sword.

It was slightly disturbing to find in Antony and Cleopatra which followed that Antony was played by a different actor – Antony Byrne, who bore little resemblance to Corrigan. In this play Corrigan, now clean shaven, plays Agrippa. Byrne grew into the role as the evening progressed and his Antony in defeat was both sad and terrible to behold. Somehow the politics of Julius Caesar pass by fairly easily, but in this play about the price of a great love affair there is an awful lot of the men being devious and shouting and plotting before one gets down to what is the point of it all – that doomed romance between Antony and Cleopatra.
Directed by Iqbal Khan one did at times wish they would all get a move on, although it really is Shakespeare’s fault. Arguably the politicalmachinations as one system collapses and another takes over had more resonance in his day for the audience. There is, however, in Josette Simon and spell binding Cleopatra – not particularly beautiful, but statuesque, sexy and sporting a series of bizarre hairstyles which turn out to be wigs she stalks around dominating each scene she is in. At the end, when dressing for her death, she whips the last wig off to reveal she is totally bald- and when her robe, prior to donning her death splendour, comes off it is to reveal she is stark naked underneath.

The production is drenched in background music and the battle of Actium is stylishly done with model ships pushed around by the protagonists. Both plays have been handsomely designed and the sets, basically pillars and some sections of the floor which rise as blocks to create a tower or to reveal a piece of architecture are clever and satisfying to the eye. This may not be a season to remember for decades to come, but it is an immensely satisfying affair. But topical they are – the power of the demagogue, the ruthlessness of the dictator, the folly of golden boys who make the wrong choices convinced of their ability to survive in the love of their public for ever are all of today.

Julius Caesar

Flavius: Marcello Walton.
Carpenter: Luke McGregor.
Murullus: David Burnett.
Cobbler: Joseph Adelakun.
Caesar: Andrew Woodall.
Casca: Tom McCall.
Calpurnia: Kristin Atherton.
Mark Antony: James Corrigan.
Soothsayer: Waleed Elgadi.
Brutus: Alex Waldmann.
Cassius: Martin Hutson.
Cicero: Anthony Ofoegbu.
Cinna: Ben Allen.
Lucius: Matteo Elezi/Cody Evans/Harry Lang.
Decius Brutus: Dharmesh Patel.
Metellus Cimber: Paul Dodds.
Trebonius: David Burnett.
Portia: Hannah Morrish.
Ligarius: Anthiny Ofoegbu.
Publius: Patrick Drury.
Artemidorus: Joseph Adelakun.
Pupilius Lena: Luke McGregor.
Cinna the poet: Patrick Drury.
Citizens: Kristin Atherton, David Burnett, Tom Lorcan, Dharmesh Patel, Lucy Phelps.
Octavius Caesar: Jon Tarcy.
:Lepidus: Marcello Walton.
Pindarus: David Burnett,
Messala: Dharmesh Patel.
Titinius: Ben Allen.
Varro: Anthony Ofoegbu.
Claudius: Waleed Elgadi.
Strato: Luke McGregor.
Cl;itus: Paul Dodds.
Dardanus: Joseph Adelakun.
Volumnius: Waleed Elgadi.

Citizens: Louis Allen, Valerie Antwi, Osman Baig, Ethan Chapples, Joe Deverell-Smith, Kate Gee-Finch, Norma Julius, Adam Lilley, Aimee Morris, Sashika Myers, Sandra Panton, Drew Patterson, Sheri Sadd, Shiv Sharma, Nalina Tobiere.

Director: Angus Jackson.
Designer: Robert Innes Hopkins.
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell.
Composer: Mira Calix.
Sound Designer: Carolyn Downing.
Movement Director: Scott Ambler.
Fight Director: Terry King.

Antony & Cleopatra

Cleopatra: Josette Simon.
Mark Antony: Antony Byrne.
Octavius Caesar: Ben Allen.
Octavia: Lucy Phelps.
Lepidus: Patrick Drury.
Pompey: David Burnett.
Enobarbus: Andrew Woodall.
Demetrius: Jon Tarcy.
Ventidius: Dharmesh Patel.
Scarius: Joseph Adelakun.
Eros: Sean Hart.
Schoomaster: Patrick Drury.
Charmian: Amber James.
Iras: Kristin Atherton.
Alexas: Waleed Elgadi.
Mardian: Joseph Adelakun.
Diomedes: Anthony Ofoegbu.
Soothsayer: Will Bliss.
Maecenas: Marcello Walton.
Agrippa: James Corrigan.
Proculeus: Luke McGregor.
Menecrates: Luke McGregor.
Menas: Paul Dodds.

Director: Iqbal Khan.
Designer: Robert Innes Hopkins.
Lighting Designer: Tim Mitchell. Recreated by Caroline Burrell.
Composer: Laura Mvula.
Movement Director: Villmore James.
Fight Director: Kev McCurdy.

2017-12-14 10:38:08

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