Today was the second Weasel outing to the Globe for 2014. We saw Julius Caesar which I’ve been looking forward to seeing.
It’s possibly the one Shakespeare play I know really well, the reason being that our English teacher thought our class was too dumb to study any other Shakespeare. And so we had to study Julius Caesar every year (perhaps until we got it right). I think the director should have done the same.
This is, without a doubt, the dullest play I’ve seen at the Globe. The main problem was the depth of the characterisations. I say ‘depth’ like there was some. It was as deep as a corn chip. This lack of any depth in the characters doesn’t give the audience a reason to care about any of them.
And it’s not like there isn’t lots of fodder for character work.
Julius Caesar – a very powerful man, he’s just returned from a victory in battle. He returns to Rome amid tumultuous celebration. From the off we should see his greatness and command of the people. Then the director has a choice: is Caesar in it for the glory of himself or of Rome? Either way, the actor has some lovely character work.
Cassius – he of the mean and hungry look. He thinks he knows what’s best for Rome. He thinks Caesar is only interested in becoming King and thinks little of Rome. His character would be so much better if he was a creepy, slithering toad of a man. Ignoring whether he’s right or wrong, this would at least create a lasting impression.
Brutus – Caesar named Brutus his son and was quite dismayed when Brutus stabbed him during the assassination. Brutus needs to be undecided and in great pain. He needs to overcome his great love for Caesar in order to decide for his equally great love for Rome. It is a constant internal struggle. I guess the actor playing Brutus (Tom McKay) did display a bit of this internal dichotomy.
Mark Antony – The rough, tough, all round soldier who would follow Caesar into Hades if he had to. A man with great passion for life if not the smartest in the bunch. This is what makes him such an interesting character, surely. Here’s this simple soldier who delivers a resounding bit of oration, turning the Roman crowd against the plotters. Sadly, the Antony I saw today was all about shouting. The passion wasn’t really there.
The crowd scenes, however, were excellent. Actors were placed in among the groundlings, on the floor as well as on boxes, creating a feeling of mass. For both Caesar’s return and the speeches, this was very, very effective.
So, all in all, not the most exciting performance I’ve seen at the Globe. Still, it was a lot better than Macbeth!
Of course, the Weasels had a lovely time, wandering the back streets of London Bridge trying to find a pub with some modicum of ventilation. Eventually we settled into the Bunch of Grapes and luxuriated upstairs by the windows overlooking St Thomas Street.