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Theatre review: Julius Caesar

John Nathan says Nicholas Hytner's version may be the best way to stage this Shakespearean tragedy

Bridge Theatre

    Ben Whishaw in Julius Caesar
    Ben Whishaw in Julius Caesar (Photo: Manuel Harlan)

    Julius Caesar

    Bridge Theatre

    Four stars

    Nicholas Hytner’s high octane, promenade production turns Shakespeare’s play into two swift parts: the first about political assassination, the second a warning of what can follow violent regime change.

    Always on the move, the production is anchored by the mesmerising Ben Whishaw in the role of Brutus. Those audience members who choose to stand instead of sit will get to see up close his transition from gentle dissenter to determined war leader.

    When the play kicks off the acting space is less a promenade than the mosh pit of a rock band playing White Stripes covers. It’s all part of a campaign to keep David Calder’s Caesar in power. We are his mob. 

    Most of the conspirators are women led by Michelle Fairley’s fevered Cassius. This allows Calder’s Caeasar to display Trump-levels of misogyny though without over-egging comparisons to the American president. The evening is short, sharp and viscerally evocative of mob rule, and may be the best, or even the only way to stage Shakespeare’s usually long-winded tragedy. 

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