Home > Julius Caesar: Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar!  (review)
Julius Caesar: Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar!  (review)

Short Description of Julius Caesar: Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar!  (review)

Julius Caesar: Et tu, Brute? Then fall, Caesar! 

thru August 30th

shakespeare.org

70 Kemble St, Lenox, MA

 

 Here's a broad statement I will stand by until the end of time: If Tina Packer, director of Shakespeare & Co's production of Shakespeare's “Julius Caesar” is in it, directs it, produces it, approves it, or even walks by the stage without hesitation, it's worth the see.

“Caesar”, playing through August 30, falls into this category. Ms. Packer has brought a lot of magic our way in her expansive career; we have a lot to learn from her.

 

 Enter William Shakespeare.

 

 I wonder if Shakespeare knew almost 500 years ago that he would be deemed the greatest writer of all time. That his works would not only be about history, but that they would become history, as well. So it goes with Julius Caesar, a work penned in 1599 or so, depending on who you ask, about the death of a great Roman leader on March 15, 44 BC (“The Ides of March”), over 1,600 years earlier.

 

Today, Shakespeare's “Caesar” has perhaps stamped more of an identity on Caesar himself than any other vessel in history. Sure, historians have scribes and notes and tablets and what not. But Shakespeare gave Caesar voice, and we humans like voice. Voice makes history real. It gives it faces and names and emotions we relate to.

 

 The voices here are carefully handpicked by Ms. Packer herself. They belong to an extremely talented cast of seven, who play the roles of over forty different people. Jason Asprey, Andrew Borthwick-Leslie, Nigel Gore, Mat Leonard, Eric Tucker, James Udorn, and Kristen Wold, who blesses the stage with her solo rendition of “Shakespeare's Will”, also playing now.

At first, I questioned some of the character placements. But in hindsight, they are brilliant.

 

The cast is not just a voice, it is a voice of seasoned temperament: The voice of reason, the voice of brotherhood, the voice of Roman women, the voice of rebellion. The characters make a macrame of the emotion running in ancient Rome at the time of Caesar's assassination. Some loved him, some hated him, communities became divided. Our characters personify the times.

 

 Julius Caesar was known as a reformer, during a very barbaric time. He was strong, ruthless, a brutal warrior who crucified people and slit the throats of those he had mercy on. Yet, somehow, he was a reformer: he changed the calendar, attempted to unite the empire, bequeathed money to his people in his Will, suffered from epilepsy, depending on who you ask. Caesar, for all his brutality to his enemies, was strongly supported by the lower and middle income citizens. When he was assassinated, so too was the voice of the people. These voices are recreated here in a dynamic and succinct collusion of literature and history.  

 

The scenery here is simple and stark for Shakespeare's tragedy of tragedies. The acting is superb. While so many scholars search for the cause of tragedy in Shakespeare's works, searching is not an issue here. Caesar and his times were brutal. The violence for Shakespeare this time around came naturally.

 

 This is a wonderful play, played out by an excellent cast, and a director we can all learn a lot from. When you watch it, look past the characters, through them, to the Fall of Rome. They are the voice: The voice of reason; The voice of harmony; The voice of rebellion; The voice of fear; The voice of...

 

  -Richard DiMaggio

didyouweekend@gmail.com

 

Julius Caesar

June 27–August 30

Elayne P. Bernstein Theatre

by WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
directed by TINA PACKER
featuring JASON ASPREY, NIGEL GORE, and ERIC TUCKER

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Address: 70 Kemble St, Lenox, MA, United States

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