Julius Caesar

I missed large parts of the play simply because I didn’t know which way I was meant to be facing.

Julius Caesar morgan ring Simon Haines teh

Director: Morgan Ring
The Mighty Players, Selwyn Fellows’ Garden, Thurs. 18th- Fri. 19th June, 3pm

So. It’s hard to write a review which can be summarised in one short phrase: don’t see this show. I could expend pages on expounding the levels of boredom and anger this production produced in me, but that would hardly be constructive. Perhaps the ideal reader of this review is someone forced into seeing the show, seeking a list of why the show was bad to compare to their own.

I’ll begin with the casting. Ben Blyth, as Julius Caesar himself, was excellent, showing all the energy, arrogance and charisma that the part demands, yet his brilliance served only to highlight the weakness of the rest of the cast. Julius Caesar should actually be entitled The Tragedy of Brutus, and Joshua Stamp-Simon’s performance in this demanding role could kindly be characterised as distracting. His failure to convey emotion or create interest left the audience puzzling over the amount of time the rest of the cast devoted to his allegedly important downfall. Simon Haines’ Cassius was interesting: he appeared competent, engaged and realised, yet the obvious lack of direction meant that he stuck out as an instance of underdeveloped talent in an otherwise hopeless group. Toby Parker-Rees’ Casca created amusement and was integral to the plot, but excising almost all of the minor characters would have actually resulted in a better play. Jessica Barker-Wren as Portia did well with a difficult part (Shakespeare wrote so little of it – and the director chopped out even more), but the intrinsic contrast between masculine and feminine worlds in the play seemed to be very much to the detriment of the latter, largely due to the imbalance of acting ability. Mark Anthony was almost absent: apparently Emily Parr played him, but her contribution to the play as a whole was negligible.

And the staging was just annoying. Told to sit ‘inside the stringed-off areas’ by the enthusiastic techie at the door, the audience was left facing at least six different staging areas, each of which were used in a seemingly random sequence. I missed large parts of the play simply because I didn’t know which way I was meant to be facing. That said, the set itself was so poor that I was glad most of the action was staged away from it, under a tree. The pointless bringing on and off of props consumed so much time that we were squirming by the end of the performance (insert an interval after the killing of Caesar, surely).

As for the rest of the production (the minor characters, the fight choreography, the unbelievably stupid overacting of deaths), I shall follow Casca’s advice and let “every noise be still”.