Caesar wore cargo pants
A review of Julius Caesar, in time for the ides of March.
William Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar tells the story of the last republican uprising against the pro-empire forces. Brutus led the uprising. Broadway’s current version, presently on previews, is advertised as “Denzel Washington in Julius Caesar”. Mr. Washington plays Brutus.
Denzel Washington is as handsome on stage as he is on film, tall (just under 6′), big (muscular, not fat), and looks younger than he has in his recent films. He played to a full house, and you could tell the audience was there to see him. He did not disappoint, and received a standing ovation at the end.
As a counterbalance to Brutus, Mark Antony avenges Caesar’s death by first inciting the Romans to civil war, and later by killing the conspirators. Eamonn Walker plays Mark Antony, and he did a superb job. His raspy voice adds a sinister touch to his character, especially during the second act. I would love to see Mr. Walker play in Shakespeare’s “sequel” and star on stage in Antony and Cleopatra.
Jack Willis, playing Casca, one of Brutus’s co-conspirators, gave another outstanding performance. Mr. Willis, in buzz-cut and dark glasses, unrecognizeable from his photo in the programme, rendered his lines in complete comfort, making each word sound as if he had just thought it. As the directors say, “he owned his words”.
The rest of the cast was very good, in spite of some of them rushing through their lines, a small problem that I’m sure will cease after a few performances and the production recovers from pre-opening pressures.
This staging is divided in two acts with a 15 minute intermission. The set looks like what a recently-ruined Roman Forum would have looked like on a dirty day. A decayed statue of a Caesar on the left balcony adds a nice touch, and is used as a springboard at times, particularly during Mark Antony’s speech. The actors wear contemporary costume, and the play starts with a large banner of Julius Caesar hanging on center stage while Mussolini-type military marches play in the background. The soldiers are armed with machine guns during the second act while helicopters and bombs roar in the background. Brutus’s forces wear green camo and Mark Antony’s wear black shirts. Shakespeare’s words still resonate no matter how you stage them, but the modern weapons and costumes were completely appropriate.
All the Shakespeare tragedies are not suitable for grade-school age and younger children, and this staging of Julius Caesar was no exception. There’s plenty of gore and violence, as one would expect. Unexpected, however, was Caesar’s nudity, which not only included a full view of his backside but also a quick flashing. By the time Caesar asked for his robe I was hoping for some knit boxer shorts, since he already was wearing a bathrobe.
This is a very good production, and I recommend it. In fact, I wouldn’t have posted an unfavorable review since the play hasn’t officially opened. Do bear in mind that it’s a limited run until June 12 only, and it’s been playing to full houses. If you try to get last-minute tickets, call Telecharge first thing in the morning of the day you want.
Blogger News Network also has this review.