The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
Theatre for a New Audience
Polonsky Shakespeare Center
March 23, 2019
|Photo courtesy of Theatre for a New Audience|
The Theatre for a New Audience production of William Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is intense and compelling. Director Shana Cooper constructs a country torn between loyalty and honor. She shapes characters ruled by a strong lust for power. The audience experiences a conspiracy commit high treason, the watches them collapse in a brilliantly staged climax. Choreographer Erika Chong Shuch and Fight Director U. Jonathan Toppo collaborate to deliver a highly stylized and brutal battle that will leave you speechless.
Julius Caesar (played by Rocco Sisto) is celebrated and adored by the citizens of Rome. A resentful Cassius (played by Matthew Amendt) meets with his brother Brutus (played by Brandon J. Dirden) to see how he feels about Caesar’s political ambition and dominance over the people of Rome. With Brutus on their side, Cassius and Caska (played by Stephen Michael Spencer) feel confident they can build a conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. After a soothsayer (played by Michelle Hurst) warns Caesar to “beware the ides of March,” his wife Calphurnia (played by Tiffany Rachelle Stewart) has a dream that the statue honoring Caesar that was erected by the people of Rome is oozing blood. She sees this as an evil omen and begs her husband not to go to the Senate meeting. Caska uses Caesar’s ambition against him to convince him to attend. The conspirators are successful in their plan. Brutus enacts a scheme to use Mark Anthony (played by Jordan Barbour) to get the citizens of Rome on their side. He underestimates Mark Anthony’s loyalty and love for Caesar, and the people of Rome rebel.
|Jordan Barbour & Rocco Sisto|
Photo courtesy of Theatre for a New Audience
Jordan Barbour delivers a flawless portrayal of Mark Anthony. He is convincing when addressing the Senate conspirators. He is genuine in his love for Caesar. He skillfully and meticulously layers the scene at the funeral of Julius Caesar with sincere emotion and political manipulation. His effect on the crowd builds and the power of his character is fulfilled.
Brandon J. Dirden portrays Brutus with the duality of the honor bestowed on him by Mark Anthony and the rebellious force needed to lead the conspiracy. We feel for him when he is haunted by the ghost of Caesar. We see the depth of grief when he receives the news of the death of his wife, Portia. We also see his cowardice at the climax of the play.
The Theatre for a New Audience production of The Tragedy of Julius Caesar is well conceived and directed. The large and skillfully commanding cast all deliver strong performances. It is playing at the Polonsky Shakespeare Center downtown Brooklyn through April 28. Don’t miss it.