Sunday, August 20, 2006

Julius Caesar

Mrs. Jogger and I, along with a couple of our friends, went to see the American Players Theatre production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar last night. It was a wonderful night out. We went up early and had a picnic supper, then stayed for the show and got home late. All the kids were out of the house -- the boys with Grandma and the girls with friends -- so we didn't even have to worry about paying a babysitter combat pay.

The production itself was very good. I wasn't really familiar with the play. Of course I knew some of the famous lines. (The guy ahead of me couldn't resist saying "Et tu, Brute?" right before the actor. Like maybe we were impressed that he knew a line from Shakespeare.) But I didn't have a good feel for the flow of the play. I didn't realize that Caesar got killed so early in it. For a title character, he doesn't get a lot of face time.

The most disturbing part for me was when the crowd of Romans killed Cinna the Poet because he had the same name as one of the conspirators. It reminded me uncomfortably of patriotic Americans after 9/11 harassing and even killing Muslims and Hindus and Sikhs and just about anyone who had brown skin and a funny accent.

The production itself was pretty gory, I thought. They used an awful lot of fake blood in the death of Caesar, which then of course gets smeared on all the actors and stays on Brutus's hands for a good half hour of stage time. I'm not sure that I would have done things that way. I think the suggestion of blood would have been just as effective. But, that was an artistic choice that the director made, and I respect that.

I found myself when the play was over wondering who the hero of the play was. It didn't seem to be Caesar. He wasn't played particularly sympathetically, for all the praise heaped on him by just about everyone. I don't think that it was Marc Antony. He seemed opportunistic and cunning. Of course, Shakepeare goes out of his way to call Brutus "the noblest Roman of them all" in practically the last words of the play. So perhaps it was Brutus.

2 comments:

COUSIN JOGGER said...

YOU SHOULD TAKE IN A PRODUCTION OF TITUS ANDRONICUS SOMETIME. THE GORE IN THIS PLAY IS UNBELEIVABLE. I WAS IN A PRODUCTION IN NEW YORK IN 1994. WE USED BLACK TO SIMULATE THE BLOOD. IF A LIMB WAS CUT OFF THEY JUST COVERED IT WITH BLACK. EVEN SO IT WAS RATHER DISTURBING.

USJogger said...

I've heard that about Titus Andronicus, but I haven't seen it. Mrs. J and I have seen 23 of Shakespeare's plays -- and we're scheduled to see Measure for Measure in a couple of weeks -- but not that one. Yet.