In these times of arts cutbacks and financial woes, the RSC are not stinting on fake blood. There production of Julius Caesar may look traditional but this isn’t a sanitised vision of Rome. Here we get blood and guts by the bucket load.
Although set in period there is something strangely topical about this Julius Caesar. With the current political unrest sweeping through the Middle East, a tale about power struggles, political deals and betrayal seems strangely apt. Coincidental timing it may be but it does add a sense of urgency to the piece.
Lucy Bailey’s production creates a sense of near anarchy in Rome, balancing the political speeches with a much needed rebellious air. William Dudley’s simple design, aided by projections of marching armies allows the action to flow freely and turns the three hour piece into what seems a much shorter affair.
There has been some talk that this current RSC ensemble doesn’t quite gel. In Julius Caesar however the ensemble works well. With a large cast of characters it can be difficult to follow each sub plot and twist; however the ensemble works well here to create a sense of the epic Rome.
Particular performances do stand out however. Sam Troughton’s politically misguided Brutus is both manipulative and moving. Greg Hicks in the title role works well to show the two sides of Cesar, inwardly the man of doubt while putting on a public front as the great showman.
It is however Darrel D’Silva’s Mark Anthony that has the finest performance of the night. A performance of power and command, it is easy to understand why the rabble followed him. D’Silva’s delivery of the famous ‘Friends, Romans, Countrymen’ speech is a fine example of political oration.
Julius Caesar may not be the Bard’s finest hour and isn’t easily accessible to those not up to speed with Roman history. Lucy Bailey’s production however does make it intensely watchable, though not for those squeamish at the sight of blood.