A Public Tragedy

August 2, 2009

A very good production, one of the best plays, and one of the worst audiences I’ve ever been in.

But even two phones ringing, people flashing lights, and lots of coughs and people coming and going couldn’t distract from Shakespeare’s excellent public tragedy, Julius Caesar.

A tragedy about the downfall of ambition and the horrors of the mob. But one that depends on personal relationships: Caesar and Calpurnia, Caesar and Brutus, Brutus and Portia (a strong character and strong actor, robbed by how few scenes she’s in and by the phone ringing throughout the main one), Brutus and Cassius.

And what a Brutus and Cassius! Ben Carlson and Tom Rooney (last year’s Hamlet and Horatio) broke my heart each time they spoke. Noble and troubled, lean and hungry. “You have done that you should be sorry for!”

The production was quite good, largely on the strength of the performances. It does seem, to a slight extent, that this year’s productions have traded emotional impact for visual impact; but very good nonetheless.

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