Fortune’s foolery

Romeo and Juliet (Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble)

Roma Street Parklands Amphitheatre

August 26 – September 12

It has taken the Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble until its twentieth birthday year to finally mount a full production of what is arguably Shakespeare’s best-known play, “Romeo and Juliet” and the outcome is most definitely worth the wait. Some would say that it’s hard to put a new twist on the oft-performed play, however, the window dressing of fresh interpretations are somewhat irrelevant, if respect is not shown to the original text. And of the many productions I have now seen of the tragic story of woe, this is the best in terms of making the original text accessible to a modern audience while, in many ways, recreating the experience of watching the work as Shakespeare meant it to be, with early acts bringing bawdy sexual innuendo and horseplay, and audience interaction (mostly from William Summers as an enthusiastic jester of sorts).

The cast speak Shakespeare with clarity, as if it’s easy to understand English and so this is what it becomes. They treat the language with a regard that is evident from the show’s very first scene. Enhancing this, a simple but clever set (design by QSE Artistic Director Rob Pensalfini), allows focus to remain where it should be. The ensemble’s return to the Roma Street Parkland also provides opportunity for the accompaniment of live musicians performing a live score (plus pre-show and interval entertainment), to build upon the emotions being portrayed on stage. And though the opening night environment may have meant competition from fireworks and passing parkland foot traffic (as well as some Act One lighting issues), the professionalism of all performers is such that they never even miss a beat.

The story begins in a Verona torn apart by the warring families of Montague and Capulet where the two star-crossed lovers of the tragedy’s title, push back against the expectations surrounding them and, in their greatest act of defiance, find unexpected love. Obviously, the performances of fortune’s fool Romeo and his true beauty Juliet are, therefore, integral to the merit of any production and, in this instance, Liliana Macarone as a gender-blind Romeo and Sarah Doyle as Juliet, do a commendable job.

Macarone makes for an obsessive Romeo who embraces the emotional rollercoaster of her character’s experience and is equally engaging whether in the intense giddy swagger of young love or a blind rage of attack on his sworn enemy Tybalt (John Siggers). Doyle gives us attitude without the oft-proportioned emo disposition. Her teenage hyperbole brings additional humour too in the reactions of Friar Lawrence (Rob Pensalfini) when Juliet arrives at the cleric’s cell melodramatically brandishing a knife and saying she will kill herself rather than marry Paris, leading to the plan that becomes the tragedy of the play’s end. Her portrayal of Juliet as being more angsty that brattish in her teenage sensibility gives us moments of identifiable parent and child interactions that relate her to, rather than alienate her from, audience members other than the usually aimed-at adolescent viewer.

Detailed care is taken to differentiate characters where actors are fulfilling multiple roles and apart from the over-caricature of Juliet’s father-approved suitor Paris, the rich texture of the play is mostly maintained. Siggers is both a firebrand, easily-angered Tybalt and an invested Friar John, unable to deliver word to Romeo as to Juliet’s plan to use a death-emulating potion to replicate her death. And there is certainly plenty of physical energy to Rebekah Schmidt’s engaging performance as Romeo’s mischievous cousin Mercutio, made all the more impressive by her then quick transformation into a poised Prince of Verona, concerned about maintaining the public peace at all costs. She not only allows us to relish in the saucy merchant’s delicious word play and double entendres but she doesn’t overplay his final moments in the character’s famous ‘a plague on both your houses’ decry. And though he does, as the Nurse banters, love to hear himself talk and will speak more in a minute than he will stand to in a month, in Schmidt’s hands, we could happily listen to him all day.

The witty interplay of mockery between Mercutio and Juliet’s nurse (Rebecca Murphy) not only serves to highlight the binary oppositions at the core of the play’s themes, but provides some of the production’s most pleasurable moments. Murphy is superb as Juliet’s devoted Nurse and comes close to stealing the show. She makes the comic character endearing rather than overbearing, as she so often is played, and though she is talkative throughout, her constant interjections and interruptions of herself, make her scenes, especially those in interplay with Juliet, a real treat. Indeed, the entire production manages to bring the funny at every opportunity, with actors using pace, pause, emphasis and accompanying gesture to effect to help its audience access the full meaning of the characters’ often layered dialogue.

With its abundant energy, Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble’s production of “Romeo and Juliet” is a solid and enjoyable performance of the play. While not everything works perfectly on opening night, the ensemble treats the text with reverence and sticks closely to its intentions even with its gender blind casting, proving just how robust the Bard’s work continues to be.

Behind the Shakespeare scenes

Caesar (La Boite Theatre Company)

La Boite Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre

July 23 – August 7

“Welcome Julius Caesar” we see posted on a side-of-stage whiteboard before La Boite’s world premiere contemporary reimagining of Shakespeare’s political thriller “Julius Caesar” fills the space.  As the show begins, there are notices added, a rack of costumes wheeled into place and hand props put in the required locations of their table by the stage manager of the obviously play within a play, Billy Fogarty. Soon, the actors being arriving for their first rehearsal. Chenoa Deemal, Giema Contini, Bryan Probets and Will Carseldine, who are all playing versions of themselves, peel in with praise as to each other’s previous performances. It is an immediately engaging and very funny foreshadow of what is to come, with nods made not only to their respective bodies of work, but also the traditions of the stage courtesy of the Scottish play superstitions et al.

While some scenes from Shakespeare’s tale of a self-absorbed politician and the men conspiring against him appear within the ensuing rehearsals, examination of the complicated, traditionally-masculine work occurs through what is going on around its fringes, which opens up access to the text to the youth audience to which it is particularly pitched. In fact, we never get to see any of the company’s in-season performance of their take of the classic play, climate change angle and all.  When Bryan and Giema rehearse as the eponymous statesman and his traditionally submissive wife Calpurnia, tech week tensions heighten to a clash of creative approaches that reveals much more than just differences in is their processes, leaving us to ponder if perhaps Caesar is not the only potential beast without a heart. 

Like its source material, “Caesar” is about power structure, duty, honour and responsibility, all of which have relevance in a contemporary society, especially when applied to the idea of diversity and representation on stage. And when things fast forward to a post show-within-the-show discussion, we get the funniest scene of all, not just in its initial clichéd questions and answers, but its escalating chaos after exposé’ of outdated attitudes and the use of overly familiar language. In particular, the TikTok livestream of the collective discussion is absolutely hilarious in its every authentic detail as it swells towards calls for Caesar to be slain.

References from the Shakespearean play are peppered throughout “Caesar”. Recent drama school graduate Will, who is playing Brutus, considers Bryan to be a North Star, in ignorance of how Giema and particularly Chenoa feel about his automatic assentation to the lead role. And while monologues from the psychological drama feature within the work, it is one in which Chenoa decries the tone-deafness of prima dona Bryan that leaves the most lasting impression as Deemal powerfully summarises her character’s feelings in relation to worth and about how she is seen.

While clearly catering for a youth market, “Caesar” offers much for audience members of all ages to appreciate, thanks to the collective efforts of its talented cast, support by slick sound (Anna Witaker) and video (Justin Harrison) design. More than a riff of Shakespeare’s play-within-a-play trope, this is one of the most meta shows you are likely to ever experience. Its five fierce non-binary and female-identifying playwrights (Claire Christian, Jean Tong, Megan Wilding, Merlynn Tong and Zoey Dawson) have crafted a clever and entertaining clap-back that is fresh and funny, especially for those familiar enough to appreciate the Tiktok feed contributions from Hugh Parker fans, for example.

With themes of power, politics and the patriarchy, there is lots going on in “Caesar” and while its five distinct acts have strong independent voices, this leaves the work feeling more as a sum of its parts than a cohesive whole. Still, under Sanja Simić’s swift direction, it captures audience attention immediately and maintains it well into its 90-minute duration. More than just illustrating the heartbeat to Shakespeare’s words, “Caesar” asks its audience to consider what these words do. And refreshingly, its challenges about representation, politicisation and gender in the theatre are clear without being blatant, instead provoking critical thinking that continues beyond even the play’s conclusion.

Photos c/o – Morgan Roberts Photography

Gender politics and poetry

Taming of the Shrew (Queensland Theatre)

Queensland Theatre, Bille Brown Theatre

May 8 – June 5

One of the joys of experiencing a Shakespearean play on stage rather than page is hearing aloud the poetic beauty of the Bard’s language and expressions nuanced with articulations of human truth. It is initially startling, therefore that Queensland Theatre’s, “Taming of the Shrew” starts without words; in its opening scene, we are left long in their absence, with the air eventually filled instead with a ‘Puttin’ on the Ritz’ character whistle that links to the production’s pre-show gramophone sounds.

It’s a start that suits the story’s reappropriated setting of the silent movie era of circa 1920s. Movie billboards to the sides of the Bille Brown Theatre stage space also set the context in time, and sensibility in relation to the play’s feminist politics, in their highlight of the literally silenced star Bianca Minola. And so things begin with glamorous starlet Bianca (Claudia Ware) filming a Calamity-esque silent film, complete with humour-filled melodrama in interaction with her male co-stars, which we see played out as a jerky, black and white film projection.

Against this Italian silent film set backdrop, Shakespeare tropes are soon apparent too, with cross-dressing, confused identities, physical comedy, clowning and comic battles between the sexes featuring throughout the story of two sisters, one who wants to marry and one who doesn’t. While multiple suitors are queuing to woo Baptista’s (John McNeill) enchanting favoured film star daughter, the modest Bianca, her outspoken older sister, Katharina (Anna McGahan), cannot attract even one. Thus, the movie mogul decrees that Bianca cannot be betrothed until her difficult elder sister is wed. Cue the arrival of assured Navy Captain Petruchio (Nicholas Brown), who is unbothered by the tales of bold Katharina shrewish nature, considering it more challenge than obstacle.

The ensuring clash of wills leads to much metaphor-filled, witty banter, complete with imagery, emotion, drama and dynamic language as aviatrix Katharina asserts her strength and independence, and Petruchio’s speech and actions of masculine confidence and strength are contrasted against the romantic clichés with which Lucentio (Patrick Jhanur) woos Bianca by tricking her father.

This is a complex comedy full of complicated conversations and director Damien Ryan finds a wonderful rhythm in the language of the articulate adversaries’ relationship alongside the violent bitterness of their banter towards alliance, symbolised by a shared physical cue to each other. And with her strong will and feisty personality, this beautiful and intelligent Katharina is presented less of a problem and more a promise of great women to come.

Certainly it is always a challenge to find modern resonance from within a heritage work, let alone a problematic one such as William Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew”. That Queensland Theatre has altered its title to lose its ‘The’ perhaps serves as illustration that the taming of Katharina is not necessarily as fait au complet as might be anticipated. Kate’s tart tongue is presented as a technique for her survival in a society in which she does not confirm, however, it also stresses the polarity between the sisters, for while focus appears to be mostly on Katherina and her shrewish behaviour, this Bianca also shows that she is perfectly capable of asserting her only will, manipulating her suitors to encourage the intrepid and lovesick Lucentio and deceiving her father in her path to marriage.

As the more traditional couple of Bianca and Lucentio Ware and Jhanur are both earnest in portrayals of their idealistic characters. As the formidable Katharina and Petruchio, McGahan and Brown are both perfectly suited to their roles, and the shifting dynamic they create between their characters paces these parts of the production along.

Brown is a commanding stage presence in his Queensland Theatre debut, leaning into the particular challenge offered by the role of Petruchio in the context of a 2021 production. And McGahan brings the required spirit to the titular role of the shrew-ish Katharina and is particularly impressive in her impassioned final act monologue about wifely duty.

They are supported by a large cast, including many of Brisbane’s finest performers. As an ensemble they combine together for many memorable scenes, including on Petruchio’s ship (rather than his house in the country) where, after the couple’s wedding, he attacks his servants and refuses to let Katharina eat as part of his intent to tame her, and during the proceeding game play that sees a scene enacted on repeat as, on the way to Baptista’s house, the party must reset each time Kate denies Petruchio’s testing incorrect claim that the moon shines brightly. In particular, Leon Cain raises the most laughs from the audience with his extreme jester slapstick as brainless fool Biondello, Lucentio’s servant.

Adam Gardnir’s design is one of striking staging and works well with Jason Glenwright’s evocative lighting design, especially in creation of some ethereal moments against the studio backlot scenic sky cloth, akin to something from the romantic ‘You Were Meant for Me’ number in the movie musical “Singing in the Rain”. Not only does this reflect the play’s central metaphor of flight (and thus freedom). but it works well in juxtaposition with the robust timber sections of the stage that later become Peruchio’s ship.

The mobile set pieces help in creating a sense of space akin to a studio soundstage and allow fluid transformations of the space in all of its aspects, including providing different elevations and levels out into and above the audience. It is at-once busy and intimate and all very interesting, especially when it is complemented by video segment inserts that both broaden the scope of the plot and expand its opportunities for accessible visual humour.

All aspects of the production work together towards its feminist voice. In gender changes from the original text, Tania (Ellen Bailey) is a trailblazer in disguise as brother Lucentio, a shrew in the making herself, and Barbara Lowing is imposing as their mother Vincentia. Disguises and costumes of all sorts mask true identities throughout, even in the case of Bianca, who is presented as the epitome of femininity in some fabulous costume pieces. And its exploration of male dominance and control over women, is ultimately quite cleverly delivered, especially through its reconceptualisation as agency, the original text’s misogyny and pivotal final act quote from Katharina that a woman should prepare herself to do anything for her husband, including placing her hands below his foot as a token of duty.

“Taming of the Shrew” is a big play of many ideas, as its almost three hour running time attests. It is also, however, a passionate production that offers modern audiences much to consider in terms of gender politics, along with some glamour, romance, laughter… and a plane.

Photos c/o – Brett Boardman

Wicked ways cometh by candlelight

Macbeth in the Dark (Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble)

Shakespeare’s notorious Scottish play is bloody business. The vital fluid is a motif that appears often in the stage play to emphasise guilt due to the cruelty of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth’s crimes. So how does “Macbeth” fare without this as a visual? Queensland Shakespeare Ensemble’s “Macbeth in the Dark” radio play version of the psychological tragedy (available on a pay-what-you-can basis via the company’s website) illustrates how the legacy of the Bard’s words is, in fact, more than sufficient to fill the visual void.  

The full length production with a running time of 120 minutes is an ambitious project that brings together a cast of ten actors playing over 25 different characters, original music, and the sound engineering wizardry of Dom Guilfoyle, under the direction of Kate Wilson. The use of sound creates a rich atmosphere for one of Shakespeare’s darkest plays. Indeed, the radio drama format builds its impression of the world of medieval Scotland by manipulating sound in companion with the suggested experience of listening in the dark, or at least by candlelight or in low lighting.

A supernatural soundscape enhances key scenes, with marker to the sinister appearance of mysterious and other-worldly aspects such the foreshadowing sounds of scavenger birds and foreboding noises of night’s dark cover, however, a sound bed under Macbeth’s (Rob Pensalfini) ‘is this a dagger?’ fatal vision suggestion of the horrid deed of regicide he is about to commit, detracts somewhat from the impact of his first soliloquised words.

The greatest clarity comes from one of the most notorious women in theatre as the ruthless Lady Macbeth (Rebecca Murphy) calmly reassures her husband’s rambling concerns about having murdered sleep by killing the gracious visiting King Duncan (Tom Coyle). In the early acts, she speaks clearly with a confidence befitting her noble hostess character’s accusatory and mocking manipulation and then urge to her husband to be the serpent under the innocent flower in order to realise his vaulting ambition. Appropriately, this turns into profound torment as later in the play she is plagued by guilty realisation that what’s done cannot be undone.

The play’s titular tragic hero speaks with conviction in determination to enact the scorpions of his mind to murder his dear, valiant friend Banquo (Angus Thorburn) lest the prophecies about his lineage reveal themselves to be true, which transforms easily into paranoia as he is haunted by the vision of his ghost as a banquet guest. Pensalfini also captures Macbeth’s changing psychological states and emotions, from his curiosity, amazement and tyrannous confidence in reaction to his misinterpretation of Act IV’s apparitions which tell of his apparent future invincibility, to his poignant final soliloquy’s contemplation of life’s lack of meaning. However, there is little tenderness to be taken from even the early scenes shared by the couple, which detracts from the isolation of the separate madnesses of the characters in the second half of the play.

With the power of prophecy, the witches (Ellen Hardisty, Leah Fitzgerald-Quinn and Liliana Macarone), meanwhile, speak with song-like rhythm in their rhyming couplet foresee of the future, producing a trance-like cacophony of sound the creates a haunting sense of ancient world magic. While it is disappointing not to hear the usual comic relief used in the scene with the Porter telling Macduff of the three things drink provokes, to break the tension, the company brings new depth to this classic, chilling tale of malevolence and terror. For example, the cries of Lady Macduff’s baby in the background make the climactic scene in which she and her son are murdered on Macbeth’s orders, especially shocking.

A radio play audience relies on actors’ voices and sound effects to comprehend the action; QSE does well with these conventions, which makes for an intellectual version of play in which performers not only deliver the verse with clarity and clearly understand what is being said, but appear to really feel the emotional intent of its dialogue. Unlike so many versions of this bloody tragedy, full of sound and fury, a radio play such as this allows a focus on dialogue and appreciation of the abundance of its phrases that now hold place in our vernacular. Without signposts as to changed scenes, familiarity with story and its characters is an advantage as, without any narration, it may be difficult to establish speaker identities and scene changes. While the poetic richness of Shakespeare’s language is enhanced through this solely-spoken genre, the soft-spoken nature of some of its dialogue delivery means that it is probably best experienced through headphones, in order to truly appreciate the new depths of anguish that the company bring to the tortured tale of Macbeth and his Lady.

Reworked woe

Romeo and Juliet (La Boite and QUT Creative Industries)

La Boite Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre

May 25 – June 15

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The pre-show soundtrack of ‘Teenage Dirtbag’ type songs seems to be an apt choice ahead of La Boite Theatre’s “Romeo and Juliet” reminding its audience of the youth at the core of this story of vulnerable teenagers infatuated in spite of their familial-tie expectations. We see it on stage also in the show’s performances and presentation of Juliet (Darcy Gooda) as a particularly precocious, shouty teenager in contrast to her Romeo (Jack Bannister), in disservice to the poetic rhythm and imagery of the language of arguably the Bard’s best known work, regarded by some as one of the greatest love stories of all time.

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This is “Romeo and Juliet” reworked for the 21st century, seen in the details embedded throughout what is still an essentially traditional take from La Boite Theatre in collaboration with QUT Creative Industries (final year acting students appear in the cast alongside some of Brisbane’s best actors). There is no prologue or epilogue to bookend the tale of woe, not that we need them, nor a happy dagger Juliet declaration of intent to join Romeo in death in the Capulet family tomb, but there is an obvious contemporary energy to the violent delights of the stage’s traffic in this 21st century re-imagining of Shakespeare’s iconic love story.

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Even with this as a lens, there appears to be a potpuri approach to its execution, with some only-early CGI and just one lone later live musical number. There are, however, the start of some interesting staging ideas within and upon its deceptively simple looking stage and through modern costumes, including pops of red motif featured throughout (Set and Costume Designer Anthony Spinaze). There is no Verona balcony or Luhrmann-like fish tank, though these scenes are still instantly recognisable. And a sublime lighting moment in Romeo’s approach to Juliet’s ‘balcony’ is over all too soon. The Capulet party at which the star-crossed lovers first meet is an aesthetic explosion, however, the dialogue shared ahead of the doomed couple’s first kiss is lost under its soundscape.

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It is the fight scene that facilitates the show’s most memorable moments. The high-energy highlight serves as the story’s turning point due to its sudden, fatal violence and also because of fortune’s fool Romeo’s resulting banishment for killing Tybalt (Wei Lan Zhong), his new wife’s cousin, in revenge for Tybalt killing his close friend Mercutio (Grady Ferricks-Rosevear). In this exciting realisation, this is enhanced by stylised but realistic sword play (Movement and Fight Director Nigel Poulton) and a thrilling soundscape (Sound Designer Anna Whitaker), making Tybalt more “Kill Bill” Black Mamba Bride than Prince of Cats, measured, deliberate and even classy in her artful consideration before every sword clash before her death.

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Regardless of its contemporisation, this “Romeo and Juliet” is all about making meaning for its audience and it is wonderful to see people reacting to the humour of the text. Perhaps as Shakespeare intended, the show’s bawdiness gets the biggest laughs, mostly from the brilliant Bridget Boyle as Juliet’s Nurse (also in double duty as the Prince of Verona).

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The supporting cast is very strong. As the saucy merchant Mercurio Ferricks-Rosevear bounces about that stage with Romeo’s cousin Benvolio (Nicole Hoskins), making Queen Mab attempt to calm melancholy Romeo’s fears on-route to their surreptitious attendance at the enemy Capulet family party in the hopes of encountering the unseen character Rosaline, for whom Romeo feels deep feelings of love. His physical, energetic performance carries the show’s early weight, and when his bawdy witticisms give way to his dying words, the mood is of sorrow rather than vengeance, which wisely makes its foreshadowing subtler than is the norm.

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The Friar (Eugene Gildfedder), too, is given a more sympathetic imagining, showcasing the cleric’s guilt for his involvement in the situation, and although his scenes are necessary for foreshadowing purposes, they do drag a little at times. Jack Bannister makes for an excellent Romeo, bringing the script’s language to life with an eloquence that heightens the shrillness of the childish Juliet.

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Despite its staging and script changes, this “Romeo and Juliet” still feels quite traditional. After a word-heavy second half, its ending is compelling in its sorrow but also cathartic as the show’s 105-minute (no interval) running time feels like hard going. For those who know little of the tragic story of two households and the rest, this “Romeo and Juliet” represents a rewarding way into the unfamiliar. Those who think it is unmatched in the dramatic cannon, will likely revel in its experience, however, if you are already just ‘meh’ about what you consider to be a satire about fickle youth, then it might not be the production for you.

Photos – c/o Stephen Henry

Romeboy reimagining

Julius Caesar (USC Theatre and Performance)

Brisbane Powerhouse, Visy Theatre

November 7 – 10

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Before its traditional opening festivities of Roman commoners celebrating their ruler’s defeat of the sons of his military rival, Jo Roth’s “Julius Caesar” begins with a song. As Soothsayer Lucinda Shaw’s smoky ‘Never ‘til Now’ lures the audience into her fortune tell to the great Roman general and senator to beware the Ideas of March as a prophesied death day. It is a surprisingly intimate and still start to the show as the characters group together on stage before flurrying into the nooks and crannies of the opened-up Visy Theatre’s post-apocalyptic setting, for contemporary civilisation as we know it has collapsed and amidst the ruins, a group of storytellers present Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” to examine where humanity went wrong.

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Though there is never really as sense of anarchy, the story’s aggression and energy soon emerges despite the typically-testosterone-charged play being presented with gender-blind casting. With a dystopian aesthetic emphasised by Mad-Maxish dark costumes of buckles, boots and leather accents, this is clearly not a traditional take of the historical psychological drama of tragic hero Brutus’s conflicting honour, patriotism and friendship. Musical additions, especially ongoing instrumental guitar compositions performed by Daley Smith create an evocative soundscape but are unnecessary distractions.

Appropriately, however, the music stops once Brutus is persuaded by the other senators to join in an assassination plot to murder Caesar before he can become a tyrant. The beautifully stylised assassination scene, is a highlight, bathed in the red as perfect illustration of how lighting guides the audience through the emotions of story’s themes of fate and free will, even if it is less effective in its initial rudimentary representation of the mighty-god fire of a thunderstorm raining lightning fire over Rome.

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Michelle Lamarca makes for a striking Caesar from her initial Act One entrance, showing composure and vocal control befitting a military leader. However, the play isn’t so much about Caesar himself, but the effect of his dictatorship and conspiracy plan through assassination to aftermath. And the other performers convey the story with passion. Ross Miller, in particular, is excellent as the impulsive nobleman Cassius. The play’s Shakespearean language sits conversationally in his mouth as he changes pitch and tone to make meaning and emotion clear without the sometimes overly-laboured phrases of some others. His delivery is precise yet flexible, not only vocally but through his inhabit of movement and gesture and another highlight is his early conversation with his friend, Brutus, in attempt to persuade him that, in the best interests of the public, Caesar must be stopped from becoming monarch, even if some second-night slips from Brutus (Angel Kosch) detract from their later interactions.

The show’s most impressive performance moment comes courtesy of Rainee Skinner as Mark Anthony, Caesar’s most loyal supporter, imploring his friends, Romans and countrymen to lend their ears. The grand oration scene is impressive in both delivery and design; Skinner is perfectly simmering in share of Antony’s most famous political achievement, conveying an engaging light-and-shade approach to its energy and emotion. It’s an impressive section of the play as the eight-person cast successfully conveys a sense of mob mentality as they enter into the audience to hear Brutus’s defence of his own actions and then Mark Antony’s subtle and eloquent reminder of Caesar’s humility and trust of those who turned on him.

“Julius Caesar” is a play of great lines, containing some of the most famous of Shakespearean quotes and this production is a quality showcase of, not only the play’s great moments, but its endurance, because as the closest thing Shakespeare wrote to a political thriller, the tale of “Julius Caesar” still has things to say to a modern audience, especially in its illustration of how tyrants don’t recognise their own oppression. Indeed, there is much to enjoy in the play and this reimagining alike; its accessibility is appealing to those new to the story and its highlight performances of key scenes are satisfying to Shakespearean purists and lovers of language alike.