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Julius Caesar Review by Jonah Sweeney
The RSC performance of Julius Caesar directed by Lucy Bailey started with a pre-p;lay scene, with the dirty, scantily-clad Romulus and Remus. They wrestle and fight across the stage, growling and grunting as they throw themselves at each other. They continue to fight until Romulus gives a deadly bite to his brother’s throat. The play slows down, then speeds up quickly into a crumbling Rome. Drunken yells sound as people stagger around the stage, being beaten with leather straps. It really shows the violence Rome was built upon.
With the violence being shown as it was I wasn’t sure at first that Sam Troughton’s calmly spoken Brutus would match up to the play’s striking and bloody image. But in the assassination he seemed ruthless and heartless as he thrust his dagger into Caesar’s body (who was played by Greg Hicks). However my heart went out to him as you could see him fighting with the guilt that plagued him. I liked the way John MacKay played Cassius; he had a powerful presence but also at the same time he seemed like a sly, peevish but highly motivated and manipulative man. It was hard to warm to Cassius in the way you could with Brutus, because he always showed hatred towards Caesar and this was magnificently shown in the assassination scene when he ran and threw himself at Caesar as he stabbed him. I was less impressed with Antony, played by Darrell D’Silvia; I expected him to be calmer and more philosophical rather than the loud, angry Antony that was portrayed. A role that stands out in my mind was Casca, who seemed rather psychotic and rabid, licking his lisps as he stabbed Caesar.
The lighting effects are something I couldn’t make my mind up about. It was good to finally have a play that didn’t only have seven or ten people on stage, for the big crowd scenes, and this had a great effect for the Philippi scenes, showing real men doing the same actions as their electronic counterparts. Another effective use for the projections was during the market place scene, when Brutus, then Antony addressed the crowd. Although I didn’t expect it to be as dark and fiery, it brilliantly portrayed Rome in chaos after the recent assassination of Julius Caesar.
The music was another strong point; the flourishes on Caesar’s entrance woke anyone out of any daze they were in and put their focus back on Caesar and the play. The whole orchestra combined and together, added to the performance in a great way.
This play is bloody, violent and reveals the true cruelty of Roman life. There is a captivating end too. The stage is left with men, groaning, killed by their own guilt and Brutus being lifted high in the air as he is solemnly walked off stage. This was one of the most memorable parts of this fantastic Shakespearean play. This play definitely deserves four out of five stars.
Julius Caesar review by Lucas Rushton
I was thoroughly impressed by the Roundhouse’s production of Julius Caesar. The beginning was an explosive encounter between Romulus and Remus. It was a fairly realistic fight to the death but even though there were parts which seemed artificial, I was gripped and wanted to see more.
The following scenes consisted of several speeches from Cassius, which I thought were very well spoken. John Mackay (Cassius) portrayed his pure cruelty and evil excellently and he sounded very convincing when persuading Brutus to join him and the conspirators to overthrow Caesar.
The soothsayer was very scary indeed and I thought the costumes and the voice added to the eeriness of the character.
Another highlight of the first half was created by Portia. Her pleas seemed very realistic and it genuinely seemed as if she was anxious and you could see the worry and panic she had about what could happen to her husband, Brutus.
But for me, the overall climax and highlight of the play was the assassination of Caesar. It was very clever of them to have made a platform, as by doing this, everyone in the audience could see what was happening. But what really impressed me was how well the cast staged the assassination. After each person stabbed Caesar, the next one would step forward and stab him and I think most of the audience were shocked and surprised when blood started pouring out of Caesar. It was a superb idea and although very gory, proved very effective.
After the assassination, the speeches by Antony were exceptional. He spoke them with passion and I really enjoyed them.
However, I thought a blip in the production was the use of the six screens which had projections on them. There were times when they weren’t connected to what was actually happening on stage and they would have been better off not using them. Also, a few of the sounds sounded distorted.
Except for that, another brilliant detail was when Antony chucked a head to Octavius. It showed how gory Rome was in those times and was a funny idea.
Sam Troughton played Brutus as a well-meaning character but he doesn’t quite show the cleverness of Brutus.
Greg Hicks lacked command while playing Caesar, but I thought the stabbing of Brutus at the end was a great way to end a brilliant production.
As this was the first play I’ve seen done by the Royal Shakespeare Company, I seriously recommend that everyone should see it as one character in particular, Antony, brings the play alive.
I would give this play four stars out of five.