Julius Caesar (1988): Haymarket Theatre, Leicester
PrJulius Caesar (1988)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Stephen Boxer (Cassius); Robert Flemyng (Julius Caesar); Joseph Marcell (Brutus); Martin McKellan (Mark Antony).
This production ran in repertory with Creon by Stephen Spender from 9 September - 5 November 1988 and then toured to the Belfast Festival before embarking on a two-month British Council tour of India.
"Dexter's meticulous staging on a bare skeletal design by Jocelyn Herbert...The ensemble work is better than anything seen lately at the National or the RSC, ditto the diction...Joseph Marcell continues his march to the front rank as a susceptible and practical Brutus and a harshly martinettish Creon...Good work, too, from such notable new names as Jacqueline Dankworth (inheriting her mother, Cleo Laine's, beauty and musical gift)" ~ Michael Coveney, "Julius Caesar and Creon", Financial Times, 21 October 1988
"As one would expect from a triumvirate comprising Dexter, designer Jocelyn Herbert and lighting designer Andy Phillips, these plays are impressively mounted on a huge acting space in which the physical and vocal disciplines of the 16-strong company are fully tested by the streamlined, no-interval Caesar and by Spender's robust, captivating language....Joseph Marcell lacks the presence of 'the noblest Roman of them all', but he is a revelation as Creon, bestriding Thebes like the dictator of a Central African state in his dapper suit and red sash. ~ John Coldstream, "Ancient echoes", Daily Telegraph, 21 October 1988
"Joseph Marcell plays both Brutus and Creon and, on the surface, they are very dissimilar: the one a Roman liberal, the other a Theban autocrat...But, seeing the two plays in one day, I was struck by strange simiarities between the protagonists....Joseph Marcell, black-suited and red-sashed, also hits some fine Olivier notes in the extended howl of pain that emanates from him [Creon] after the death of his son....[Billington returns to Julius Caesar] Again everything is spare and simple: the story hurtles through sans interval, the main playing-area is a circular white disc, the chief touch of colour comes when red banners descend for the Forum (though I wish they didn't whirr while people were speaking)....Mr Marcell rightly suggests that Brutus is as inflexible in his righteousness as Creon in his autocracy." ~ Michael Billington, "Hearts of fire", The Guardian, 21 October 1988
"Joseph Marcell is a Brutus of great authority and gentleness, proud and principled, vocally subtle, bemused by trivia but a man for whom curiosity never rests." ~ Michael Ratcliffe, "Over the peak", Observer, 23 October 1988
"The indisputable star of both productions is that fine black actor Joseph Marcell, who turns Brutus into a Roman Toussaint L'Ouverture and Creon into a Theban Papa Doc." ~ Francis King, "A rare Ben Jonson", undated clipping in V&A Archive