Rome has now been changed to a modern African country where,amid much song and festivity,Julius Casar accepts the ruler's crown,although a sooth-sayer warns him to beware the Ides of March.... See full summary »

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Artemidoris (as Mark Ebulue)
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Rome has now been changed to a modern African country where,amid much song and festivity,Julius Casar accepts the ruler's crown,although a sooth-sayer warns him to beware the Ides of March. Embittered ex-colleague Cassius,envious of Caesar's new status,enlists the support of a group of conspirators,including the previously loyal Brutus,and they kill Caesar, whose adopted son Octavius and friend Mark Antony obtain revenge on the murderers. Written by don @ minifie-1

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24 June 2012 (UK)  »

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Юлий Цезар  »

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Solid version that fits the modern African dictatorship setting
14 July 2012 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

With The Hollow Crown currently screening, the BBC are in the middle of a bit of a Shakespeare festival, which explains the otherwise odd decision to screen this version of Julius Caesar. The last thing like this I watched was David Tenant in a TV version of his Hamlet, but that was months after it finished whereas this version is currently on tour in the UK. The plot is familiar to many, but in this version the political thriller is moved to a modern African dictatorship with an all black cast. Although some of it is filmed as it is delivered on a stage, the TV version sees it spread across other sets to make it more of a televisual experience.

It terms of the material, I did enjoy seeing this story again – I'm sure it will sound odd to those who are regular viewers of Shakespeare, but I cannot remember the last time I saw a version of Julius Caesar and I had forgotten how engaging the tale is and also how good the dialogue is. This version does it justice and it fits pretty well within the modern setting. The cut-throat violence of betrayal and cruelty works in the setting and the passion of the characters is complimented by the sweat on their skin, befitting the setting. The mixing of stage and locations is successful in some ways but not in others. It works when it comes to having a more intimate proximity or a more appropriate set but it must be said that the performances occasionally do not seem to recognise that the viewers are now within a few inches of their faces rather than in a large room.

This doesn't happen too often though and mostly the performances are good. The cast are all of Afro-Caribbean descent but this quickly becomes a non-issue as a "thing" because it doesn't matter in terms of enjoying the story. Paterson Joseph is not brilliant but he is better than I expected; after all this is the man that Theo Robertson described as having "less range than a water pistol", but yet here he delivers some complexity to his character and makes for a pretty good Brutus even if he never quite gets away from the feel of someone "acting" rather than "being". Nri's Cassius is better and is more convincing within his own skin. Fearon is strong as Mark Antony – in particular I thought he did a great job with his speech at Ceasar's funeral. Support is mostly good with solid turns from Andoh and Kissoon to name but two.

Overall this is not the best version of the play that you'll see but it does work pretty well. The modern setting fits the material really well and the delivery makes the most of it even if the change from stage play to television doesn't work in all regards. The performances are mostly good – none classic but mostly very good. A solid version then that is worth a look.


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