Review: Julius Caeser at the Old Globe
October 30, 2018
On Friday the 26th, the theater teacher, Stephanie Siers, took the Advanced Drama Honors class (and a few interested thespians) to go see a special performance of Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” that was just for students. We all took a bus down to Balboa Park where we met with a few other schools before going in to the theater. The show was performed in the round, on a stage surrounded by the audience, with minimal set. Two benches, a small platform, and a throne were the only decor that were on the marble painted floor.
I personally have never enjoyed Shakespeare, but the talented actors, unique interpretation, and STUNNING tech made the entire play an incredible experience. The main reason I actually enjoyed the show was that they were able to make Shakespeare feel modern. For example, the costumes. The clothing, although it hinted at roman togas, didn’t fit a particular time period, but rather the characters’ personalities. Characters wore flowing robes, silken suits, and tasteful sashes.
The consistent use of certain colors throughout the show allowed for plain but tasteful symbolism. Caesar wore red every time he was on stage. After he died (sorry if that’s a spoiler, but it’s history), the color was held and waved in flags and banners by the public when they support him and hidden when they did not.
Besides the costumes, another aspect that made the show feel more modern and accessible was its ability to focus on current issues. Some of the key roles were genderbent; Brutus and Cassius were both played by women and portrayed as such, which brought attention to issues involving sexism and made the play more relevant in general. It also made the show include a lesbian relationship (cue the audience full of theater kids all saying “awww” in unison), and Brutus was portrayed as a powerful, married woman that was fiercely loyal to both her country and her wife.
The final thing that really drew me in was the tech. The music was amazing and the use of the lights made some key moments in the show incredibly powerful. There was one moment where the theater went completely dark and then slowly filled with sounds: music and whispers. Since it was in the round, the noises came from every direction and engulfed the audience. The sound grew louder and louder until finally there was a moment of perfect silence and a single beam of light on Caesar. It gave me chills.
Besides tech and interpretation, the story and show itself were enticing. The opening of the show was a bit… overwhelming. It began with a group of people who, based on their clothing and energy, appeared to be representative of the public. They were all shouting and then began telling the story (in an extremely crude fashion) of Julius Caesar to the crowd. They hopped onto the stairs and ran down the aisles and really made the audience feel as though they were roman citizens in the town square. The shocking beginning made the rest of the show more engaging and led the audience to feel invested in the story.
Overall, seeing “Julius Caesar” at the Old Globe was a truly unique experience and I am so happy I was there. If you get the chance, go see a show at the Old Globe.