Friday, 2 February 2018

REVIEW: Julius Caesar at The Bridge Theatre



"Friends, Romans, countrymen... Lend me your ears."

It's not often a modern re-telling of Shakespeare will see people queuing out the door for their chance at grabbing a ticket, but it would seem the Bridge Theatre has nailed it with Julius Caesar. Perhaps its star-packed line up including Ben Whishaw (Skyfall), Michelle Fairley (Game of Thrones), David Morrisey (The Walking Dead) and stage/screen veteran David Calder which has drawn in the crowds? Credit to them though - what sensational performances from them all.

Unlike when you stand in the pit at The Globe, at this production at the Bridge Theatre, you are immersed in the sets and furthermore, where you start won't be where you finish up. This is not an interactive journey, but one where I can guarantee you won't stand still for long as security guards and cast members barge through the mob crowds and when Mark Antony is less than a foot from your face and screams "MOVE!" by God, you do!

The modern setting is reminiscent of a political rally for Trump. Red baseball caps and t-shirts for sale, flags waving and a live rock band screaming "We're Not Gonna Take It" at the tops of their lungs, and not to mention security guards aplenty. It brings Shakespeare's piece to the forefront of your mind as a modern piece of drama and it is seamlessly executed by director Nicholas Hytner. The immersive energy is HUGE and I know this because despite a sore throat and determination to preserve my voice, when the crowds started chanting, I too was crying out "CAESAR! CAESAR! CAESAR!"... Incredible to think how easily I was swayed, actually.

As Brutus, Ben Whishaw taps into the intellectual turmoil and distress perfectly.
Morrisey's Mark Antony is passionate and hot-blooded whilst Calder's Caesar is proud yet imperious. It is Fairley's remarkable turn as Cassius which bowled me over sideways as she acts through every fibre of her body, magnetising your eyes onto her, even if she is only sitting and breathing. Adjoa Andoh as Caska was also exceptional and stood out in the larger scenes committing to the role with ferocity and boldness.

This production is the best of its kind and is deeply rousing.

An absolute must-see for those who perhaps don't know Shakespeare as well as they should as it brings his historical text stampeding into the modern day and for those who know it like the back of their hand: it's new, vibrant and will be unlike any other retelling you've seen before.

Shakespearean perfection.

Review by Harriet Langdown 

Rating: ★★★★★
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