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Julius Caesar in Lenox

We saw Shakespeare & Co.‘s Julius Caesar last night. What a rich production! And certainly not because of its production values: the performance was in the tiny Bernstein Theatre with a cast of just seven and an almost bare stage.

The acting was up to the company’s high standard. New to me was James Udom as Marc Antony. He gave the famous address — which stands out for its devious plainness amidst the torrent of language in which it is embedded — brilliantly. Eric Tucker made the noblest Roman, Brutus, human. I could listen to Jason Asprey all day long. (I embarrassed myself after the performance when he came out to the lobby.) Kristin Wold switched characters on stage instantaneously and before our eyes, nevertheless bringing us along.

It is a hard play. It never lets you settle. And it has perhaps the most despairing final words of any Shakespeare play. We may not be 100% sure that Caesar was so ambitious that he needed to be killed for Rome’s sake, but he at least had the good sense to mask his ambitions. When Octavius stands amidst the carnage and celebrates the “glories of this happy day,” we see what naked ambition truly looks like. It was a devastating moment last night.

The small audience consisted almost entirely of people over 60. Such a shame.

2 Responses to “Julius Caesar in Lenox”

  1. I agree with your thoughts on Julius Caesar. It is amazing what Ms. Packer, the director, did with seven actors and minimal sets and costumes. Of course, what the actors did was amazing as well.

    Several weeks later my wife and I saw “Shakespeare’s Will” at Shakespeare & Company and I thought Kristin Wold’s performance in this one-woman play was spectacularly good. It was the best performance I have seen this summer at Shakespeare & Company (we have seen a total of 6 shows this season). She performed as Anne Hathaway and at times also played several other people virtually simultaneously. I have some disagreements with the text of the play but the performance by Ms. Wold was a tour-de-force.

  2. I just saw Caesar again. It is powerfully done with much great acting and the spare stage and only seven actors does not diminish it. Asprey’s initial long speech and Udom’s oration after Caesar’s death were terrific. Gore was masterful as Caesar. Wold’s ability to change roles and have us believe them was amazing.

    I was pleased to see that the theater was full and there were some people under 60 this time, including some teens and 20′s. Still, Shakespeare & Company deserves a larger audience and wider recognition, as do the performers.

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