Royal Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar ~ By Angela Douglas

Started On :: 08/09/2012 - Ended On :: 08/12/2012

"Friends, Romans, Countrymen, Lend me your ears…" I was surprisingly touched by the compelling and arousing performances laid bare in true Shakespearian style in “Julius Caesar,” currently running at the Noel Coward Theatre.

As a RSC virgin, memories of torturous years spent enduring Shakespeare during English Lit lessons came flooding back as I embarked on my journey. Back then it all sounded gibberish, and senseless, even though I resided a mere stones throw from the picturesque birthplace of Will himself, Stratford - Upon - Avon.

Fast forward; times have changed, women are D-I-V-A’s, flares and shoulder pads are back en-vouge and classic English prose are understandable! 

An all Black Cast eased me into this fast-moving thriller packed with violence, blood, self-harm, lies, revenge, and struggle for democracy, with the leads played by well-known actors Jeffery Kissoon (Caesar), Paterson Joseph (Brutus), Cyril Nri (Cassius), Ray Fearon (Mark Antony) and Adjoa Andoh (Portia).

A modern African twist, incorporated African dialect, robes, dancing and tortuous tyre burning but maintained traditional Roman landscapes which were unexpected and initially confusing, as with the costumes; suggesting ancient Roman robes but later unfolding as traditional African after one character appeared rocking trackies. But, the story draws parallels with African history. Caesar could be Amin or Mugabe.

Therefore, Cassius persuades Brutus that assassination is the only way to save Romans from Caesar’s tyranny. They conspire, engaging help to fool Caesar to collect his crown despite the telling apparition from his wife of blooded hands and the Southsayer’s warning.

Paterson Joseph’s Brutus and Ray Fearon’s Marc Anthony especially won favour spilling impressive skill and wit (Brutus) for spitting scripts with gusto. Brutus was a stark contrast from comedic gold “Peep Show” and the majority of the cast were an evolution away from stereotypical TV Soaps and Police Drama roles.

The programme explains despite objection Kenyan school curriculum still supports the works of William Shakespeare. In 1964 Nelson Mandela found solace in lines from “Julius Caesar,” even quoting while on trial for his life, “I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.”

And die I did not. I lived to tell you finally my RSC cherry has been cracked. Diva’s and Divo’s it’s never too late to discover Shakespeare.

Venue: Noel Coward Theatre, West End till 15th September 2012

Cost: From £5 (all RSC shows have 18 to 26 year olds for £5 tickets) 

National Tour: London, Aylesbuy, Bradford, Salford, Norwich, Cardiff