A room bedecked with winding ivy leaves, strings of dimly lit lightbulbs, and oppressive posters blazoned with ‘Veni, Vedi, Vici’, is the set that greets me for Julius Caesar. It encapsulates what, first-time-director, Lucy Thompson aimed to convey through the performance, a mix of classical and modern, bringing political parallels to the minds of the audience.
All productions have their faults, even when blessed with longer rehearsal periods and larger budgets than Caesar, and although some actors erred on the side of over performance, and the costuming was unimpressive in its simple modernity, these are the only flaws which distracted from exceptional moments.
When tensions rise between countries and paranoia abounds, Caesar is a warning of the worst we are capable of
The death of Brutus was one of these moments, tragic and emotional through the melancholy strings of the orchestra and the touching relationship cultivated between Brutus and her servant Lucius. Brutus is played with subtlety by Bea Henderson, revealing honour in this deluded character.
Also, deserving mention is the derisive and dismissive character of Caesar, causing the audience to almost sympathise with her murderers; Portia’s genuine and loving rendition, and of course the devious performance of Casius. Although occasionally too soft-spoken, Jamie Morton’s slow, low and calm voice gives a conniving and manipulative air to this Casius, spinning a web around Brutus and the audience, making outbursts of psychotic rage all the more effective.
Hysteria and suspicion are evident throughout the play, with red stage lights illuminating the ultimate paranoia: Caesar’s murder; a frenzy like piranhas during a musical crescendo. But the crowning glory of this show was in the interactions between the chorus and leading characters after Caesar’s death.
Reminiscent of fake news and how easily the public can be lead on a hunt for blood, the shout to Brutus of ‘Let her be Caesar!’ shows how there is always a new controversy, a person in a power, or celebrity to be photographed. When tensions rise between countries and paranoia abounds, Caesar is a warning of the worst we are capable of.