After the recent fiasco of La Strada, then I was slightly apprehensive about returning to the theatre, but the promise of seeing Jonathan Hyde in the flesh was all the convincing I needed!
The moment I see cast members running down the aisles and ignoring the confines of the stage then I panic. I have flashbacks to last year when I saw Late Night Love by Eggs Collective. We were reassured by the ushers that sitting on the chairs on the stage was allowed and that there would be no audience participation…the lights went down and the audience participation begun. Late Night Love was actually highly entertaining and funny, but now I never believe the claims of “there won’t be any audience participation”. I actually found actors running down the aisles to be a little immersion breaking, it took me out of the mindset of being engrossed in a compelling narrative and instead forced me to look at actors climbing over handrails, causing me to remember I was in a theatre. I’m sure some people love that and find it draws them into what’s going on, I just find it a tad gimmicky and unnecessary.
Jonathan Hyde was brilliant as Caesar, as a fan of his already then I was well aware of his ability to deliver a speech with gravitas and to play characters in positions of power, and he did not disappoint. As the leader of a vampire army in Guillermo del Toro’s The Strain then he ended the most recent season in a coffin, Jonathan also ended up in a coffin in Julius Caesar, maybe he’s getting typecast!
Samuel West conveyed a complicated and torn Brutus who brilliantly portrayed struggling between his loyalty and love for Caesar, his friend, and that of Rome itself. Some early reviews initially criticised Samuel for mumbling his lines, but after four performances I didn’t see any evidence of that. If Samuel looks familiar then it’s because he was in W1A as Prince Charles Head of Security.
Something I felt really let the production down was the marketing, more specifically the incredibly lackluster photos on the Sheffield Theatres website. The above photo was taken by me at the interval and is incredibly powerful, though inexplicably it isn’t used in promotional material, possibly it’s too graphic, but isn’t that the point? The marketing material below is brilliant, but not prominently displayed online, I had to scour Twitter to find it!
This image should be everywhere, it’s frankly brilliant. Far more eye catching than all the staged photos of the cast pretending to be mid-speech. The photo of Zoe Waites (pictured below as Cassius) is the perfect example of this. She’s clearly very talented and had mountains of stage presence, but the photo of her isn’t very exciting. Let’s have some photos of her during her death scene, or when she’s stabbing Caesar! Uninspired is probably the most fitting word to describe the promotional photos, which is a shame considering how good the production actually is, and how much effort must have gone into it. Come on Sheffield Theatres marketing team, pull your fingers out!
Julius Caesar runs at Sheffield Theatres until Saturday 10th June and is a thoroughly entertaining evening, you can get your tickets here.
The Strain returns for its fourth and final season on Sunday July 16th, I’m counting down the days.
Season 3 of W1A is currently filming and will be broadcast later this year.
Our rating: 92%