Saturday, 10 September 2011

Julius Caesar, Bell Shakespeare, Sep 9, 2011

Review: Julius Caesar, Bell Shakespeare ****
  • Kate Herbert
  • From: Herald Sun
  • September 09, 2011 12:00AM

JULIUS CAESAR, Bell Shakespeare, Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre, until September 17
Peter Evans' pared-down production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar focuses on the backroom politics of the Roman senators who saw Caesar as a tyrant whose ambition and usurping of power clashed with Roman ideals of leadership.

The direction is simple, stylish and well paced, with a versatile cast in modern dress playing multiple roles and making Shakespeare's poetic text reverberate in a contemporary context.

Alex Menglet is magnetic, playing Caesar as an arrogant, old statesman who believes he is invincible and loved.

Evans cast Kate Mulvany as a female Cassius - the conniving instigator of the conspiracy - and she is compelling. 

As Brutus, the true believer, Colin Moody captures the moral dilemma of an honourable man who baulks at violent treachery but is driven by his love of Rome.

Daniel Frederiksen cunningly recreates Mark Antony as a scruffy party boy who evolves into a statesman and orator at Caesar's funeral.

Evans cleverly uses microphones and voice sampling to create crowds and off-stage characters and Anna Cordingley's sparse design is evocative with its looming Roman column. It is lit dramatically by Paul Jackson.

The significant editing of Shakespeare's play concentrates the action on the conspirators and their relationships and inner turmoil.

This is a rich and novel interpretation of Shakespeare's play that takes theatrical risks and makes the violence visceral without being overtly bloody.

Star rating: ****

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