“Hooray and up she rises, Hooray and up she rises” chant the working women of Rome to celebrate Caesar’s victory and her return to the capital. Soon, though, Caesar is warned to “Beware the Ides of March”. And the knives come out.
The tragedy of Julius Caesar as told by William Shakespeare is over 400 years old and yet this production is fresh and still brutal viewing. In a taught 80-minute edit, this production is piercing in its succinctness.
Hearing this text with the pronouns changed sometimes felt charged with meaning and sometimes, as in our current political climate, the most natural thing in the world. “Are you married or a spinster?” sounds strange to the ear but it slips past. “Did Caesar swoon?” seems more damning when talking about a woman; 400 years of fainting heroines in our collective theatrical memory.
A solid cast, the standouts are Amanda LaBonte’s Brutus, who is particularly layered and shaded, and Sophie Lampel’s Antony, who holds the audience captivated with her rendition of the “Friends, Romans, Countrymen” speech. Director Fleur Kilpatrick has a clear vision, denying us the blood we might expect, but delivering sharp dramatic blows. One after another.