Julius Caesar (1994): Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
PrJulius Caesar (1994)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Matthew Flynn (Octavius Caesar); Robert Gwilym (Cassius); Denys Hawthorne (Julius Caesar); Patrick O'Kane (Brutus); Danny Sapani (Mark Antony).
This production ran from 8 September - 15 October 1994.
"The carcass of a great beast, a flayed bull, is strung up overhead. At ground level, the rows of seats surrounding the circular stage are draped in purple silk, like some parliament swathed for royal pomp or a tiered operating theatre, as awash with blood as an abbatoir or arena for savage sport. Bearing down is a vast meteor, seemingly about to crash to earth. In this not unimpressive but ultimately unriveting production of Julius Caesar...Rome transgresses time and space. In their open, long-sleeved robes, Caesar and his treacherous retinue might be in biblical Judea or, slighly embarrassingly in some futuristic civilisation (conceived in the 1970s). Mark Antony (strong Danny Sapani) acquires a Napoleonic cloak. His enemies, Cassius and Brutus, don commando gear with a soupcon of Anglo-Saxon warrior." ~ Kate Bassett, "Caesar in the wars, but a Night to remember", The Times, 12 September 1994
"Guest-directed by Robert Delamere, a fashionable young talent, this is a smart, nineties reading of the text, opening on a butcher's carcass suspended from the flies. Very Damien Hirst. I don't remember this from Shakespeare's stage directions but you can see his point. The setting, designed by Rob Howell, is a sandy arena, a bull ring, a cockpit for feeding people to lions, and it's carnival as Caesar returns in triumph. Costumes hint at a medieval Mad Max. It's all very butch and bloody....I was left with an impression of style rather than substance, sound and fury rather than sense. It's politicians as gangsters, all right, but why can't they make sense of the verse? Nothing could be more apposite to this day and age than this inflated rehetoric - so why does it sound so archaic?...Danny Sapani handled Marcus Antonius's set piece as if it was fresh." ~ Robin Thornber, "Julius Caesar: Manchester" The Guardian, 17 September 1994
"More enigmatic is Danny Sapani's Antony, glamorously sweaty, yet more knowing and ruthless than Cassius can hope to be. But he so deliberately shows us the calculations of his rhetoric that we can never sway towards him with the crowd." ~ Jeffrey Wainwright, "Julius Caesar: The Royal Exchange", Independent, 12 September 1994