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Photo courtesy Ben Laird

Vertigo Theatre keeps spirit of Shakespeare alive with Julius Caesar

By Hibah Faheem, October 10 2017 —

Understanding Shakespearean plays can require exceptional effort and recreating these remarkable stories on stage requires unique talent. Luckily, the reenactment of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar by The Shakespeare Company at Vertigo Theatre was up to the task. Director Ron Jenkins produced a powerful interpretation of the tragedy with intense and thrilling atmosphere.

Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is a story based on the events that took place in Rome before and after Caesar was in power. The play starts out with the plebeians celebrating Caesar’s victory over Pompey. Conflicting opinions about Caesar quickly emerge. Cassius, who is vehemently against Caesar’s rule, convinces his friend Brutus that killing Caesar will save Rome. They form a group with five others and follow through with the murderous deed. A civil war erupts and many deaths follow.

In Jenkins’s production of Julius Caesar, the actors did an incredible job portraying the emotions felt by their characters through facial expressions and tone. The audience could see Cassius’s mischievousness in his smirk, Brutus’s self-doubt in his concerned expressions and Portia’s fragility in her small frame.

Through minor changes to the plot, Jenkins’s Julius Caesar is retold in a unique and captivating way. The paternal relationship between Lucius and Brutus leaves the audience with a feeling of endearment. In contrast, Portia’s song and blood curdling cry generates unexpected goosebumps.

Jenkins preserved many aspects of Shakespeare’s original plays, such as having no backdrops. The stage was decorated with a few pillars, like those you’d expect to see on a trip to Rome. Caesar’s broken face hung at rear stage, showing the chaos that ensued after his death. The characters wore modern costumes with an Elizabethan twist, an interesting choice from costume designer Victoria Krawchuk. It reminded the audience that Shakespeare remains relevant and that the issues faced by his society and characters are similar to contemporary issues.

Sadly, the current production of Julius Caesar has come to an end. However, The Shakespeare Company is putting on two other productions of Shakespeare’s plays at Vertigo Theatre next year. King Lear starts on March 15 and Much Ado About Nothing follows soon after. It’s worth going out to see the productions, as The Shakespeare Company does an incredible job in keeping the spirit of Shakespeare alive.

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