The RSC’s Rome season has kicked off with a powerful production of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The play centres around immense ambition and ferocious conflict.
Julius Caesar is a production that exudes authority, as the rhetoric language heigtens the idea of power. Caesar is a commanding character that holds strength and supremecy through both his tone and gait. Andrew Woodall’s depiciton of Caesar holds this characterisation, yet plays it with a little more arrogance which creates a different yet interesting image of the well-known character of Caesar.
The staging and effects are minimilistic in comparison to other productions the RSC have recently staged, but it works in the performance’s favour as it’s all about the dialogue and language. Director Angus Jackson has kept to tradition when it comes to both the look and feel of the production, making it entirely clear to follow. This however pulls complete focus onto the actors and their delivery – which as a whole is superb.
Cassius is a dominant character in the piece, played by Martin Hutson, Cassius refuses to accept Caesars rising power which leads him into convincing Brutus (Alex Waldmann) to kill Caesar. Hutson plays Cassius with the perfect balance of anger and genunitity. His charming yet slightly manipulative ways are evident as he attempts to persuade Brutus. Waldmann’s portrayal of Brutus is significant, as he appears submissive and boyish at first, yet he builds the character up with maturity and confidence as he slowly reaches that desperation for power when he kills Caesar. Both Waldmann and Hutson play off eachother well, as their striking dialogue and vigour means they progessively wind each other up tightly until they are at breaking point.
With politics and power being so topical and timely, it’s an important performance that enables the audience to feel the frustration and anger of the people of Rome. James Corrigan depicts the character of Mark Antony tremendously, as he creates real character progression. Seen as a party boy and lacking in intelligence, as Caesar’s right-hand man he is questioned upon after the death of Caesar. Although due to his reputation he is left to his own devices which proves dangerous.. Corrigan’s captures this switch in character excellently as he begins to unravel his intelligent and more devious side.
Maintaining the traditional core of the play works triumphantly as it amplifies the power of the text through simple yet effective staging – highlighting the beauty of the dialogue and language with clarity.