reviewed by Paula Citron
Stratford Shakespeare Festival
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by James MacDonald
Starring Ben Carlson, Tom Rooney, Jonathan Goad and Geraint Wyn Davies
At the Avon Theatre until Oct. 31
Julius Caesar is a great Shakespeare play, that, oddly, is rarely performed. Thus, having it on the Stratford playbill this season was an anticipated event. The production turns out to be a mixed blessing.
Director James MacDonald cares about language so much that the pacing moves at glacial speed. Yes, you can savour every word, but the build to Caesar’s murder as the conspirators try to bring Brutus on board is beyond tedious.
Happily, the second act wakes up, and while there is still the same careful attention to language, Shakespeare focuses on the deep and complicated relationship between Brutus, played by Ben Carlson, and Cassius, played by Tom Rooney, who are both sensational.
Carlson is brilliant at depicting Brutus’ stoicism, while Rooney is equally adept at showing a loving if reluctant man accepting bad choices. David Boechler’s column set is interesting but the Darth Vadar costumes are silly.
Julius Caesar continues at the Avon Theatre until Oct. 31.