Tony Grist (poliphilo) wrote,
Tony Grist

Julius Caesar: RSC: Stratford

I know Julius Caesar pretty well- I studied it for "O" level and acted in a couple of schoolboy productions- once as Mark Antony and once as one of those interchangeable soldiers who scurry on and off in the final act  (Volumnius, I think) - but this was the first time I'd seen it done by pros.

It wasn't very good. The first time director- hoping to impress I suppose (we've all done it)- smothered the play in back projections and ambient sound. We learnt later from an RSC insider that the actors hate having to perform against all that technical- and lame-arsed whizz-bangery, that Sam Troughton (who plays  Brutus) won't give interviews because he's so spitting mad- and that he and John Mackay (Cassius) had an artistic falling out and weren't speaking to one another until their womenfolk ganged up on them and banged their heads together.

But you can learn things about a play from even a bad production that you won't get from the page.  One thing  I learned is that J.C. is as full of ghosts, portents, omens and prophetic dreams as Macbeth- and a  second is that the final two acts can be a real drag- especially if your Brutus and Cassius lack chemistry.

Greg Hicks played Caesar as a fidgety, self-obsessed celeb. He was good. So was Darrell D'Silva as Mark Antony.  Mackay's weedy but hysterically macho Cassius didn't convince me, but I won't forget it.  The heart of the play- the murder and its immediate aftermath- is director-proof.
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