Some Kind of Theatre‘s contribution to this year’s Fringe, Julius Caesar (with pirates!) is a faithful iteration of Shakespeare’s beloved tragedy. Not only is it very accessible for younger audiences, with some slapstick humour and snappy delivery, but also appeals to older viewers through their close adherence to the original script.
The actors involved all clearly know how to carry themselves on what is admittedly a very small stage; they manage to use almost no props and eliminate time-consuming set changes while still creating a sombre, jubilant or tense mood by turn.
The primary issue with their iteration of this show, then, is that their piratical addition is completely unnecessary. The spin on the play doesn’t remain consistent; they bring in a parrot hand-puppet for the first few minutes, choosing to then abandon it for the rest of the scene. There are occasional references to ships which are gradually replaced with references to Rome. The costumes are beautiful but they are the only proper link to the swashbuckling adventure we were promised.
It’s frustrating, because the cast is talented enough to pull off the play without needing a gimmick to tide them through. The addition doesn’t affect the viewing enjoyment, though, and there are some nice aspects of it (such as the parrot taking the role of a soothsayer, and an impressive fight scene, especially considering the cramped nature of the venue). It just feels as if the addition is not much more than an attempt to spice things up, without enough confidence to go all the way.
Aside from this, however, it is an very enjoyable hour. The acting is excellent and the chemistry between both Marc Anthony (a woman, which is a refreshing change) and Caesar, as well as Portia and Brutus, hits the mark every time. For fans of Shakespeare, or those who would like to begin but don’t know where to start, this is a good choice.