“How many ages hence shall this our lofty scene be acted over?” asks the character of Cassius in William Shakespeare’s timeless “(The Fall of) Julius Caesar”. The answer is for many ages, most recently by the Nottingham New Theatre for the entirely online quarantine season.
Directed by Jasmine Butler and produced by Kishan Ganatra, the story follows the classic tale of the assassination of Julius Caesar in war-torn Rome. However, thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic ending any chance of face-to-face performances, Butler and Ganatra have the story taking place through the eyes of Brutus’ computer, utilising screen captures, zoom calls, private messages, Youtube videos and news clips.
Some cuts were a little jarring at times, but the switching between media types is a clever idea that really helped keep me engaged. I have to confess I’m not a Shakespeare expert (except Macbeth for GCSE English), but I thoroughly enjoyed this play in its new, exciting format.
Megan Peace (Brutus) and Emi Thackray (Cassius) perform their Shakesperian-style monologues beautifully, holding my attention even through a screen
Another key difference to a usual performance is that the main conspirators in the assassination are female, as opposed to the traditionally male characters we would normally see. All the actors worked well together and both Megan Peace (Brutus) and Emi Thackray (Cassius) perform their Shakesperian-style monologues beautifully, holding my attention even through a screen.
Their scenes together are also very enjoyable and really capture the relationship between the two characters. An advantage of a zoom call here is that you feel you are part of the call, as present and involved as the two characters are. Jack Linley (Mark Anthony)’s speech at Caesar’s funeral that goes on to ignite the Civil War was equally engaging, although the noise of the wind was slightly distracting (perks of video!). I also particularly liked the slow camera zoom in as his speech became more passionate and intense.
The editing team of Joe Staples, Jacob Dean and Tash Wanigaratne ably wove the different media and sounds together, contributing to giving the performance its modern feel and creating something that felt really unique. As with any zoom call, there was a small amount of lagging and loss of sound at times, although barely enough to be noticeable and certainly not enough to take you out of the story.
It is incredibly exciting to see the team as a whole do a wonderful job in bringing Shakespeare to the screen in a new way for the quarantine season
The play ends strongly with news clips filled with the horrors of war and destruction rooting the play, despite the Shakespearian language used, soberly in the present day and leaving the viewer with food for thought.
It is incredibly exciting to see the team as a whole do a wonderful job in bringing Shakespeare to the screen in a new way for the quarantine season. I applaud the cast and crew of Julius Caesar, and the NNT as a whole, for creating such engaging theatre under these difficult circumstances. See (The Fall of) Julius Caesar over at the NNT Youtube page now.
For more content including uni news, reviews, entertainment, lifestyle, features and so much more, follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like our Facebook page for more articles and information on how to get involved.