"Beware the ides of March." Act I, scene ii
|Chicago Shakespeare Theatre ; December 0, 2002 Chicago, Illinois|
Reviewed on : 0000-00-00 00:00:00 ; Reviewed by : Antonia Mandry
|Julius Caesar is really about two men and neither of them is Caesar himself. Caesar is the focal point of the conflict, both internal and external, that Marc Antony and Brutus face. One of the things that director Barbara Gaines does in this production is to highlight the differences between these characters and how they relate to the eponymous character.|
In this production, Gaines assembles some of her best actors in one fell swoop. Kevin Gudahl (notably Antony in the CST's prior production of Antony and Cleopatra and thus a bit confusingly) plays Brutus with a sort of stolid honor. Oddly enough, his performance is a bit overshadowed by Scott Parkinson's sly and tempermental Cassius, whose actions are doubly cloaked in truth and lies. His is perhaps the most vivid performance of the production, although Scott Jaeck's Marc Antony is remarkably superficial. This Antony is a player, a slyboots if you will, one who is indeed enraged by his patron's murder but is very aware, even in the midst of his grief, how to play his "audience" (Brutus and the conspirators). Finally Kimberly Hérbert-Gregory was magnificent as the faithful Portia. A particularly hard part to play (especially with her limited stage time), Portia must be played very "Roman," full of honour, strength and intelligence; and very much defined by the men in her life. She defines her own worth in how much she is valued by both her father (the historically rigid Cato) and Brutus (a man of immense honor whose dilemma oftens mimics Hamlet's). It is difficult to make this character sympathetic not only to modern audiences but especially to modern women -- yet Herbert-Gregory manages it with aplomb and a deep sense of passion. A final word on the acting : the extras were exceptionally enthusiastic.
The set design was very interesting; because of Gaines' desire to set this in a modern politcal environment, James Noone created a world where the players do not watch the television but the television watched them. An array of plasma TVs covered the ceiling and both mimiced weather and emotions but also served as a ghostly reminder of Brutus' crime. An interesting device, yet perhaps a bit distracting. The set itself was stark with an element that I would have loved to have seen more of: the moving thrust stage. At times, the players arrayed on the stage back behind the proscenium would then be moved out to the center of the audience in effective moving tableux.
Finally the costumes, by Mariann Verheyen, made me dub this production of the "Fascists versus the SAS". However, this is a bit unjust as the guards resembled more the British police in riot gear then anything else. Antony and Octavius however arrayed in their military gear (and Guy Adkins as Octavius with his short black hair) resembled nothing so much as the Wehrmacht during World War II, a singularly eerie resemblance that evokes nothing so much as dread at Rome's future.
Edward Poynter, 1883
The Ides of March
|Chicago Shakespeare Theatre|
|Societas Raffaello Sanzio|
|Joseph L. Mankiewicz|