THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE

Jeffrey Horowitz ARTISTIC DIRECTOR

Theodore C. Rogers CHAIRMAN OF THE BOARD

M. Edgar Rosenblum EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

presents

JULIUS CAESAR

By WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

 

EARL HINDMAN/Julius Caesar (c), THOMAS M. HAMMOND/Brutus (2 fr r.), COMPANY

LUCILLE LORTEL THEATRE, 121 Christopher St., NYC, www.tfana.org

January 14 through March 2, 2003

 

Directed by KARIN COONROD

Scenic Designer DOUGLAS STEIN

Costume Designer CATHERINE ZUBER

Lighting Designer DAVID WEINER

Composer/Sound Designer MARK BENNETT

Fight Director B.H. BARRY

Voice Coaches CICELY BERRY, ROBERT NEFF WILLIAMS

Dramaturg KATHERINE PROFETA

Production Stage Manager BRUNO INGRAM

Press Representative SPRINGER/CHICOINE P.R.

Cast

THOMAS M. HAMMOND as Brutus

EARL HINDMAN as Julius Caesar

DANIEL ORESKES as Cassius

GRAHAM WINTON as Mark Antony

with

JUSTIN CAMPBELL, HOPE CHERNOV, CURZON DOBELL

MICHAEL RAY ESCAMILLA, KRISTIN FLANDERS, ANDY HOEY

DAVID DON MILLER, NICHOLAS MONGIARDO-COOPER

SIMEON MOORE, MICHAEL ROGERS, MATT SALDIVAR

JACOB GARRETT WHITE

 

In a two-hour rush, without an intermission, director Karin Coonrod has envisioned Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR in an empty, industrial world, filled with shades of grey, both literally and figuratively. Populated by characters who feign loyalty, modesty and concern for the general welfare of the state, this modernist take on an oft-produced classic falls somewhere in the middle of sharp political analysis and murky social commentary.

Even in Shakespeare’s time, JULIUS CAESAR made some poignant, if obvious, observations of the seemingly inherent insincerity of those who deliver political speech, and their often-incomprehensible ability to sway public opinion. In terms of dramatic construction, the two funeral speeches following the Ides of March murder of Julius Caesar (here, a blustery Earl Hindman), delivered in succession by Brutus and Mark Antony, can be extremely problematic. To be delivered successfully, the audience must believe in the absolute mutability of public opinion, and must be themselves engrossed by the actors’ eulogies. Here, now, in 2003, it is not a stretch to imagine the modern equivalent of the, "Friends, Romans, Countrymen…" oratory being presented to a global audience on the brink of war, and Ms. Coonrod uses modern circumstances to buoy the import of the production.

In Karin Coonrod’s adaptation, the timely timelessness of JULIUS CAESAR is omnipresent. She does as well as any in the major aspects of her staging, but the elements that should be subtle or softer are too hard, and the nuances of the dance are lost amidst the bells and whistles. She includes nice touches, like melodic singing, and the fast-paced direction that makes the plot seem inevitable. However, with the plot cuts and quickness, some of the mystical elements suffer, rendering the denouement rushed and ineffective. Most displeasing is the, as I call it, "deer in the headlights" lighting design, which subjects the audience to repeated bursts of bright light accompanied by clanking sound effects. Yeech!

So, while this is an uneven JULIUS CAESAR, it is not a bad one. Too sanitized for my tastes, but with a tight running time that is sure to lure some to the Lortel Theatre, it is, afterall, Shakespeare.

- Kessa De Santis -

The Conspirators: MICHAEL ROGERS, JUSTIN CAMPBELL, THOMAS M. HAMMOND, DAVID DON MILLER, DANIEL ORESKES and SIMEON MOORE

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