Mad Duck Equity Co-op

Shakespeare's Julius Caesar

Dates 3 - 19 March Venue Jericho Performing Arts Centre

Reviewer Jane Penistan


 

Director Jack Paterson Set design Al Frisk Costumes Moira Fentum Lighting Melissa C. Powell Sound Jeff Tymochuk Stage Manager Connie Hosie

 


Caesar Graphic

This modern dress, bare stage production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is only too apposite to today's international climate. Shakespeare's Romans tolerated dictators no less well than today's society.

Haranguing crowds and secret political plotting are as alive as ever. Assassination of powerful political figures is a recurrent feature in contemporary news media. Women have always endeavoured to protect their husbands from danger, and their warnings of impending disaster, together with those of forward looking prophets have been ignored.

This production opens with an off-stage crowd shouting "Caesar, Caesar". From a red curtained archway, Caesar and his entourage enter and proceed through the tiered audience to mount the raised, lozenge-shaped stepped rostrum in the centre of the playing area.

Immaculately tailored Chris Britton is a cold, autocratic Caesar, self assured and arrogant . When he speaks he intends to be heard. Kevin Williamson is the wily, devious, plotting Cassius, whose potent arguments persuade the democratic and humane Brutus to join the conspiracy to rid Rome of its too powerful leading statesman. As Brutus, Craig March presents an ambivalent but virtuous character, in contrast to that of the seductive, conniving and later irascible Cassius.

Among other conspirators are the sardonic cynic Casca of Keith Martin Gordey, and the silver-tongued, persuasive Decius Brutus of Julia Henderson.

 

w
w
w
.
r
e
v
i
e
w
V
a
n
c
o
u
v
e
r
.
o
r
g

Lucia Frangione is a sympathetic, sensitive and fond wife to Brutus, a beautiful performance.Teryl Rothery plays the superstitious and nervous Calpurnia, Caesar's wife. Samantha Simmonds manages three small but important roles with ease. She is Lucius, the youthful servant to Portia, the crowd-savaged Cinna the poet, and, finally, an army officer, Titinius.

As Marc Anthony, Craig March is the pleasure loving follower of Caesar, but proves himself to be a skilled orator and manipulator of crowds, a grieved, bereaved friend and a jealous, ambitious, clever general. This is one of Shakespeare's greatest gifts to actors, and Craig March rises to the challenge with great aplomb. Finally, young Octavius Caesar (Robin Mooney) in the company of Antony appears to be a promising military commander and as autocratic as his uncle Julius.

There are no swords or artificial blood in this production. Red scarves are used most effectively to distinguish different factions, as weapons, and as bloodshed. The sound and lighting departments produce a wonderful storm, to foretell the impending disasters of the forthcoming day.

The absence of distracting scenery and properties and the dark clothes of the men put the onus of the play on the cast. They must use the text with all their skills to deliver the full message and meaning that Shakespeare supplies. Here the words are clearly, audibly, and poetically delivered.

The director and this small company manage a brilliant, courageous and enthralling presentation not to be missed. This is an exciting play for those who want an evening of first-class theatre, and Shakespeare at his best for bardolaters.

2005 Jane Penistan

home