Review: Julius Caesar

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Despite doing an English degree and so having spent many hours of my life immersed in the Bard’s iambic pentameter, I had, until last week, never seen Julius Caesar on stage. In fact, my encounters with the play had never got beyond a grainy Marlon Brando proclaiming in a toga. Luckily, Nicholas Hytner’s superb new production at the Bridge Theatre was worth waiting for.

The current political climate has led, inevitably, to a spate of modern stagings of Shakespeare’s text, the most infamous being the 2017 production at the Public Theater in New York, which portrayed Caesar as a swaggering politician in an unmistakable blonde wig. This production, too, is set in the 21st Century but by combining bold staging with nuanced, clearly delineated performances, it retains a subtlety and emotional punch that sets it apart from recent reincarnations.

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Review: The Merchant of Venice

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I have strong emotional ties to ’The Merchant of Venice’. It was the first Shakespearean play in which I performed. Hearing Portia’s infamous ‘quality of mercy’ speech, even ten years later, takes me back to the moment when I first spoke Shakespeare’s words and learned to love them.

Later, at university, I became fascinated with the generic problems posed by the play. It is full of contradictions, with an intricate blend of comedy and tragedy that flounders in the wrong hands. This production nails it.

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