2012 | Broadway/Drama | 1:56 | English
Phyllida Lloyd’s groundbreaking all-female version of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar stars leading actress Harriet Walter as Brutus, a person wrestling with his moral conscience over the murder of Julius Caesar. It was originally staged at the Donmar Warehouse in London. Set in a women’s prison, the play is far removed from the traditional Roman setting of Shakespeare’s play. As the women perform, it becomes a play within a play. Frances Barber as Caesar is a vicious tyrant sporting a beret and leather trench coat. When Caesar become overly aggressive, Brutus leads the charge to assassinate him. Instead of stabbing him in the back, Caesar is choked with bleach. Yes, it’s weird, but that’s the point of this version of the play. By staging the play in a women’s prison, Lloyd provides a potent metaphor for the prisoners’ pent-up rage. As the assassination of Caesar was violent, so is violence the imprisoned women encounter. The result becomes a play more like Marat/Sade than William Shakespeare. Lloyd intersperses a few rock and heavy metal numbers to unsettle the audience. It’s all part of Lloyd’s attempt to be witty, liberating, and anti-authoritarian. And she succeeds… brilliantly!
Why Stream This Play?
- The play was designated a New York Times Critic’s Pick
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It is one thing to have an ingenious concept, another to carry it out. Lloyd’s production proves that female actors can bring a fresh perspective to traditionally male roles. The stripped-down stage is resourcefully used and, above all, the production feels powerfully motivated: you feel these imprisoned women are impelled to present a play that deals with violence, conflict and the urge to overthrow any form of imposed authority.
A women’s touch has not softened the hard and mighty JULIUS CAESAR. On the contrary, the gripping, all-female, London-born production has a muscular strength and ferocity guaranteed to keep everyone in the theater in sustained fight-or-flight mode. This cast speaks Shakespeare with a fiery fluency that allows you to understand not just every word but every intention behind the words as well.
Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female JULIUS CAESAR is extraordinarily bold. It’s not just the casting that makes it feel daring; there’s also a crazed, percussive intensity. The production abounds with weirdness, thuggery and horror.
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