Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Julius Caesar - review

Written by: Peeny (@AdamPeeny)

Where's Peen been?
Noël Coward Theatre, London
Was Peen keen? 

An incredibly strong, confident production: a success most worthy of its wreath of victory. This is a story of winning a war, which leads to murder and fear-driven suicide, all in the search for freedom and liberty.

Julius Caesar won the war against Pompey the Great, and so returns to Rome. Some of the senators fear how much harm a lot of power in one mans hands can cause, as the Roman Republic prepare to bombard him with new honours. So, the senator Caius Cassius (Cyril Nri) and Marcus Brutus (Paterson Joseph) – both exceptionally well played, the latter even more so as an absolute delight and inspiration to watch on stage – plot to kill him. After Caesar’s death, his nephew and Mark Antony take command, leading to a battle against the conspirators which ends in some timely suicides.
            The director, Greg Doran, obviously had a very clear vision of this play as a final product. This is a bunch of phenomenal actors telling a great Shakespearean story; the characterisation was some of the strongest I have ever seen, making it all the more believable. There are moments of sadness, moments of joy and moments of laughter; whichever part of the story is being told, every actor always got the mood just right. The energy was sky high from the get-go and the few small, somewhat slapstick gags are always right on cue for a good bit of comic relief.

The live music and vocals aided the atmosphere when necessary, ensuring there were less dry eyes in the audience. Akintayo Akinbode, the composer/music director created some hugely compelling tunes, and the musicians played to an expert standard. Alongside this, every other element of the production was of top quality. The lighting design (Vince Herbert) and sound design (Jonathan Ruddick) worked together perfectly, making for delightful theatricality. The set was a little understated but exquisite; Michael Vale managed to set the scene brilliantly whilst also allowing for versatility, which is fundamental to the play’s story. There were a vast amount of visually stunning moments throughout and the design just made it more and more picturesque.

Obviously, it wasn’t entirely perfect, and there were occasional flaws. But the sheer expertise, talent and professionalism in this production cannot be neglected – it’s world class. From every knife that wounded to every ‘r’ that was rolled (of which none were missed!); this is a deeply moving, thoroughly entertaining and genuine must-see production for all.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has an astounding ability to make their work lovable and some of the highest quality Shakespeare work around: this production is not out of the ordinary. You’ll struggle to believe how much you’re believing. 

This production runs at the Noël Coward Theatre until 15 September 2012, before touring the UK. 
For more information: http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/julius-caesar/
@TheRSC #RSCCaesar

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