No Place Like Rome: Julius Caesar At Bridge Theatre

Julius Caesar, Bridge Theatre ★★★★☆

By Johnny Fox Last edited 28 months ago
No Place Like Rome: Julius Caesar At Bridge Theatre Julius Caesar, Bridge Theatre 4
Photo: Manuel Harlan

The most exciting thing about Julius Caesar is how the Bridge Theatre can transform itself into a mosh pit for a baying, howling, dancing crowd urged on by a thrashing band blasting the White Stripes’ ‘Seven Nation Army’  – and it's terrific that £15 day tickets mean anyone can get up close to popular talent like Ben (James Bond) Whishaw and Michelle (Game of Thrones) Fairley.

David Calder’s Caesar is an ageing populist, crunching soundbites in a biker jacket and red baseball cap.  If that’s a Trumpish reference it’s a dangerous metaphor, because the civil war that followed Caesar’s demise did no one any good as his conspirators fought between themselves and precipitated the collapse of the Roman Empire.

Photo: Manuel Harlan

Collapse is something of a theme in Nick Hytner’s brutish production – a couple of patrons were stretchered off the pitch fainting in early performances – and after the thrill of the opening bombast the pace sags for an hour until Caesar is assassinated and war breaks out.

Photo: Manuel Harlan

Whishaw is fine if predictably bookish and brooding as Brutus, Fairley not quite his equal as co-conspirator Cassius, but among the diverse and distinguished casting, Adjoa Andoh is an undoubted star as a superbly enuciated and impassioned Casca.  LAMDA graduate Fred Fergus, doubling Brutus’ batman Lucius and Cinna the poet may be a young actor to watch, too. It’s not Shakespeare’s easiest play, but the Bridge makes it very accessible.

Julius Caesar, Bridge Theatre, 3 Potters Fields Park, SE1 2SG. Tickets £15-65. Until 15 April 2018.

Last Updated 07 February 2018