YOU can almost smell the testosterone in this production.
From the feral fraternal fighting of Romulus and Remus that opens the play to the guttural grunts of soldiers dueling at its climax, the Courtyard Theatre is constantly echoing with the sound of men.
Julius Caesar returns triumphant to Rome, the capital of the great Roman Empire, however a group of conspirators grow jealous of the ‘ambition’ of Caesar and plots to assassinate him.
Noble Brutus, disturbed by the debauchery of Caesar’s Rome, is willingly dragged into their plot and becomes the cornerstone of the conspiracy.
Once Caesar is done away with, his friend and ally Mark Anthony artfully woos the crowd with a skillful speech at the funeral.
Civil war engulfs the Republic but with Rome against them the writing is on the wall for Brutus and co. Haunted by Caesar’s ghost, Brutus, played by Sam Troughton, commits suicide.
Mark Anthony is victorious and his ally Octavius takes charge of the Republic.
Debuting for the RSC, director Lucy Bailey leans interestingly on the use of video projection to create a background for Rome and its people. This adds to the atmosphere only as often as it takes away from it.
It is an inventive idea, but perhaps an overemphasis on it leads to a rather sparse set design.
The players ably carry the play, Darrell D’Silva does an excellent job as Mark Anthony. RSC Debutant Oliver Ryan ensures Casca stands out as an conspirator.
It is a brutal, violent and powerful production. The power of skillful oratory, the fickleness of public opinion and the deviousness of those with power all ensure that Julius Caesar has a stark relevance for our time.