Review: Julius Caesar University Drama Studio

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In Shakespeare’s historical tragedy, the eponymous Roman general is a bit part. Ken Rowe cameos as the famous emperor before and after his dramatic regicide.

Tony Kennick deftly directs his large cast in this fine production from The Company. John Lowry is terrific as Cassius who is pivotal in persuading Brutus through trickery to lead the band of conspirators to thwart the monarchy and maintain a free republic. Every ounce of his energy is expended on brooding or fierce rhetoric as befits his changing fortunes. Neil Sullivan counters this by presenting a confident, forthright Brutus, at least outwardly.

We are treated to countless quotable soundbites. After Brutus’s appropriately measured eulogy, John Ansari’s Mark Antony gets a glorious opportunity to pull out the big guns. After faint praise for Brutus we lend Ansari our ears as he encourages the common people to cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.

There is some good work too from some smaller parts. Katie Ryan is effective as Casca who strikes the first blow to Caesar. Alice Schofield puts in a great cameo as Brutus’s wife Portia, her mind mired in anxiety with her husband’s treachery.

The costumes are updated to Shakespeare’s time with military tunics, swords and rifles. No toga parties here.

Caesar was killed for his ambition but there’s always another ambition waiting in the wings. However in this case most of the ambition gets bumped off too. Watch this space for Antony and Cleopatra however.