This all-women production of Julius Caesar is a mature, confident performance featuring an effortlessly fluent and dynamic cast, who bring this play of treachery and pride to life.
So much of Shakespeare is in the performance, and this one is both accessible and faithful to the original language. There is humour, heart-stopping tension, moving funeral speeches. Scenes of political banter and battles of wits are like tennis matches, with the audience glancing from one person to the next as the observe the tense games of menace. Additionally, Caesar’s death is punctuated not only with daggers, but with strangely brutal red flower petals which are hurled and smeared over the corpse.
For 80 minutes these women sweep across the stage, trailing streaks of red and gold and white, creating striking tableaus and delivering familiar speeches with newfound vigour and fun. The tale being told is a well-known one: eponymous Julius Caesar is murdered by conspirators with the aim of revolutionising Roman government, only for those who betrayed the trust of the monarch to be consumed with guilt and die themselves. It is told here with a refreshing perspective; no names are changed, only pronouns, and this allows the themes of betrayal, autonomy, and fate to be presented as genderless, and relatable to everyone.
This is the power of representation, and something to admire these ‘genderbend’ adaptations for – they allow the human condition to been shown to and from all different perspectives. For me, there is something that will always be distancing about plays that feature only men, plays that, because of this, create narrow-minded assumptions that ‘well that’s just how men would react’. Shakespeare, as we have always had proof of, is about mankind, and this performance showcases and celebrates that.