I love a good Shakespeare play. I have seen many, but I do tend to stick to the ones that I know and love. I’m slowly working my way through new ones to me – and I think the last ones for me to tackle are the historical ones, mainly because I am aware that they are going to be harder-going.
At the end of last year I saw for the first time both Titus Andronicus and Antony & Cleopatra, but there are still plenty that I am yet to see.
Bridge Theatre is a brand new purpose built theatre just on the south bank of London Bridge. I have a massive soft spot for Rory Kinnear and almost wet myself when I saw he was starring in the opening productions there – Young Marx. Tickets were booked without a thought, and I was captivated by the new shiny theatre (not to mention by the fantastic play!)
Julius Ceasar is the second production, and a Shakespeare I was unfamiliar with. And with the amazing David Morrissey in it, I again booked straight away and counted down the months!
As we went to take our seats, I realised that Bridge Theatre has mobile seating – the layout was very different to Young Marx. This was pit-style – and surprisingly, what seemed to be like a mini-festival was going on in the pit itself. In fact a live thrash metal version of Katy Perry’s Firework was ringing out, much to the disdain of a couple of our more elderly seat-neighbours. I’d not even twigged that there were ‘promenade’ tickets available! We later realised that the ‘band’ was made up of some of the actors.
Nicholas Hynter’s contemporary staging, including the promenade audience was fantastic. Different sections appeared and disappeared, stage hands and ‘players’ were within the crowd – swiftly setting up scenes and shouting, heckling and jeering at the main actors.
It worked so well because Julius Ceasar is really about power play and the mob. David Calder swaggered around as Ceasar – commanding the crowd. Ben Wishaw’s Brutus was bookish and considering and David Morrisey as Mark Anthony was strong, loyal and cunning. However, I was captivated by Adjoa Andoh as Cassius – dry and witty.
It was Shakespeare – brutal but flowery. However, it was also very Hynter – stunning and memorable. I highly recommend!