Julius Caesar has never been Londonist’s favourite slice of Shakespeare, but a mouth watering preview of Deborah Warner’s new production in yesterday’s Observer grabbed our attention. First off, the onstage action makes a nice foil for the dull political shenanigans going on in the real world – although Warner herself believes the play to be the perfect tool to help us analyse Westminster and beyond:
“This is a moment to look at issues of power and whether democracies can survive. In a time of crisis, we go to the strong texts – well, I certainly do. This is not a time for TV-style documentaries about politics. We need insights, important truths about the human condition.“
The Observer does its best to link Blair and Brown to Caesar and Brutus (with Peter Mandelson as Mark Antony!), but in reality they are more like Aguecheek and Belch from Twelfth Night – PM’s question time always being more comedic than tragic. The current American production is also mentioned with Denzel Washington as Brutus giving the feeling that it’s more of a stage bound sequel to The Siege with all its post 9-11 trappings. Thankfully this is one British production not padded with actors more at home acting in front of CGI rather than a real audience.
Ralph Fiennes, Simon Russell Beale, John Shrapnel, Anton Lesser and Fiona Shaw. Or as Warner puts it, “This is the best cast since the film with James Mason“.
And in an unprecedented move the cast also includes a hundred regular Joes (40 Equity members and 60 community volunteers), an ambitious ocean for the cast to play against. Casting a mob to play the mob – now that’s creative casting!
Julius Caesar is part of the Barbican’s BITE season and runs from the 14th of April to the 14th of May. The picture is of course Kenneth Williams in Carry on Cleo.