Julius Caesar

Chelsea Theatre, King’s Road
November 3rd – November 15th, 2014

by Amanda Farley

Julius Caesar is a rising superstar, politically he’s untouchable. A hero from the war, the general populace love him and his friends are beginning to fear him. In Rome that kind of power can only lead to one course of action, it’s time to get rid of him. As bargains are struck and friendships betrayed, the real question is who can be trusted to put the good of Rome before their own ambition.

This new version of Julius Caesar directed by Jimmy Walters draws inspiration from modern TV shows and asks the audience to look at the similarities between the death of Caesar and our own modern political system. Julius Caesar is played by Alexander McMorran who is the perfect embodiment of the manicured and slick showbiz politician so familiar today. He manages to carry off that tricky role of being both likable and repulsive simultaneously.

Brutus, played by Adam Blampied, is a strong and powerful figure who holds the stage and Blampied brings a quiet dignity to the role. The only problem is Brutus’ lack of emotional struggle at the beginning of the play. The character’s love for Caesar doesn’t ring true and because of that failing the act of murder and the bloody aftermath lose their intensity. Blampied’s Brutus is never elevated to the point where he really is ‘the noblest Roman of them all’.

The real star though has to be Mark Anthony, played by Ed Sheridan. Sheridan brings some much needed emotional truth to the show. His Mark Anthony easily captivates the audience and you can really feel his love for Caesar and the quiet anger that motivates his revenge.

Shakespeare’s words and characters need energy to truly spark into existence. So much can be missed due to the unfamiliar nature of the language and it takes something special to bring his work successfully to life. While this production is far from perfect, its energy and vibrancy is such that an audience can’t help but be enticed into the world.

A world filled with movement and sound, a world that brings the ancient and mixes in the modern, a world that seems very close to our own. From the mob of hoodies to the traitor hotline, inspiration is drawn from current affairs and pop culture to create a refreshing new take on a classic story. A highlight has to be the soothsayer journalist, a man writing about the future whom no one will listen to. It’s a delightful idea, just imagine him sitting in his office coming up with puns around the Ides of March. Surely a feat that, if successful, would land him a job at The Sun.

Another inspired touch was the character of Cinna the Poet, whose rapping prisoner routine could have come straight out of Orange is the New Black.

This is a production worth seeing and a play that has so much to offer an audience. Shakespeare is amazing, this production is good, combined they are a good night of entertainment. Julius Caesar opens at the Chelsea Theatre on the 3rd of November.

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