However one of the problems with Shakespeare is that his work isn’t always the simplest to follow and even with the best of intentions – you can get lost. Such is the case with Julius Caesar and having decided to watch the play without the aid of synopsis foreknowledge (a grave mistake I might add!) I was somewhat reliant upon my better prepared companion for character updates during the interval.
Julius Caesar (Kissoon) is the leader of Rome but his dear friend and magistrate Brutus (Joseph) becomes convinced Caesar will turn Rome into a monarchy under his own rule; much to his dismay an as a genuine patriarch of the great nation. These suspicions are fuelled by conspirator Cassius (Nri) who persuades Brutus to join his cause and with a group of other conspirators, assassinate Caesar. After his assassination Brutus convinces the people that they killed Caesar out of love from Rome however Mark Anthony (Fearon) with a subtle and eloquent speech turns the people against him and rouses a mob to drive all the conspirators out. A battle then ensues between the conspirators and those loyal to Caesar which sees Cassius and Brutus killed by their own hand.
Director Gregory Doran has set the drama of Rome in Africa with an all black cast made up some of noteworthy actors. The atmosphere of the piece is sumptuous, rich and vibrant and I particularly enjoyed the music and dance while the audience were entering the auditorium as within the play itself. However the accents of the characters seem to vary between Southern and Western Africa and the use of the original text and references to Rome was at times a little distracting. It is thus the performance of some remarkable actors that made the production such as Paterson Joseph as the conflicted yet noble Brutus and Ray Fearon as the charming and cunning Mark Anthony.
Having never seen or read Julius Caesar before I did struggle to keep up and the play wouldn’t be my recommendation should you be a Shakespeare Virgin. However if you take the time to do a little research before hand and want to see an enjoyable take on a classic, you won’t be disappointed.
Reviewed By Karla Williams
Julius Caesar is playing until 15th September before going on a UK Tour. To book free tickets please visit: http://www.rsc.org.uk/whats-on/julius-caesar/