Posts Tagged ‘Richard Dowden’

This is a modern staging that works well, and somehow the present day African setting serves the machinations of the story and the verse sounds more naturalistic.

The set is a crumbling set of stone steps with a giant statue with its back to us behind them. Though these are used occasionally, the action is mostly stage front, bringing an intensity as events unfold. It is a play which takes time to get into its stride, as it does here, and in this production you also have to attune to the heavily accented dialects with which Shakespeare’s verse is spoken. When it gets going, though, boy is it rolling.

Greg Doran has assembled a brilliant all-black cast led by Jeffery Kissoon as Julius, capturing all the complexity of the character, and Ray Feardon as a hugely charismatic Anthony. There’s a brilliant passionately manic Brutus from Paterson Joseph and Cyril Nri gives us a Cassius who’s completely wwrapped up in all the intrigue. They are supported by a terrific ensemble and a handful of musicians.

Richard Dowden’s programme notes quote an African saying that if Shakespeare were alive he would relate more with today’s Africa than with his home country and I suppose the same applies in reverse – Africans are living through the things Will writes about.

This is one of the best stagings of Julius Caesar’s I’ve seen and some of the finest acting on stage just now. Don’t miss it.

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