Julius Caesar (2017): Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
PrJulius Caesar (2017)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Chipo Chung (Portia, Octavius); Elliot Cowan (Mark Antony); Jonathan Hyde (Julius Caesar); Zoe Waites (Cassius); Samuel West (Brutus).
This production ran from 18 May - 10 June 2017.
"Hastie and his designer, Ben Stones, have redecorated this huge space to make imperial Rome dovetail with contemporary office design. His suit-wearing Romans smooth-talk, scheme and stab on a fully carpeted stage, fringed by a pit that enables delegates to sit as if they are around a conference table. Combining spare elegance with some good gore when he needs it - and a persuasive descent into civil war in the second half, as a lively community cast of 23 run around the auditorium while gunfire and smoke fills the room - Hastie makes this Roman tragedy resonate for a contemporary age in which traditional political certainties are no match for populist urges. Not that such Trumpy, Brexity parallels are underlined, I'm glad to say. Yet I've never seen the pivotal scene, in which the politicians address the mob after the murder of Caesar done butter....And next to the magnetically casual West, some actors - Zoe Waites, say, as Cassius, and Chipo Chung as Brutus's wife, Portia, and then a shouty Octavius - seem hemmed in by the language rather than enabled by it." ~ Dominic Maxwell, "Julius Caesar: The Crucible, Sheffield", The Times, 25 May 2017
"Ben Stones's stage design loosely evokes a modern, presidential-style debating chamber but Hastie's show is just as much about the streets as the senate. Those streets heave with all the tawdry pomp of an election campaign. The Romans, that volatile mob whose allegiance turns on a dime, and played by members of Sheffield People's Theatre, heckle from the auditorium like fans on the terraces....The mood is melancholic, even elegiac. Richard Taylor's brooding electronic soundtrack is the sound of a storm about to break. Samuel West, back on stage as an unusually scholarly Brutus at the theatre he once ran, cuts an appealingly introspective, anguished figure prone to philosophising when his co-conspirators might prefer a bit of action. Zoe Waites offers a great foil as a female Cassius in slick suit and heels, and lending a fierce frisson of gender politics to the bitter relationship between Cassius and Jonathan Hyde's Caesar, who oozes patrician entitlement." ~ Claire Allfree, "A persuasive and poignant Caesar", Daily Telegraph, 26 May 2017
"Samuel West delivers a Chekovian Brutus, soul-searching but sometimes overly finicky. As his wife, Portia, Chipo Chung is emotionally powerful and dramatically skilful, giving a role of few lines its necessary weight to counterbalance all false persuasions with the true pleadings of love." ~ Clare Brennan, "Julius Caesar", The Observer: The New Review, 4 June 2017