Female cast delivers great ‘Julius Caesar’ performance, ‘modern’ interpretation falls short

Kate Jamison, Online News Editor

A group of 20 strong female actors took the stage to perform a modern interpretation of William Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” April 12 to April 17 in the Lupin Theater.

The set was a huge, angular steel frame with three different levels the actors could perform on, complete with multiple moving parts and a 360-degree projection screen at the top, which played a variety of video clips throughout the show. The set created an intriguing background for the performance, but lacked any homage to the classic Roman architecture or really any distinct location. The audience never learned what time period or geographic location in which the interpretation was set, making it difficult to contextualize. 

Pre-show gimmicks, which involved actors interacting with the audience, had absolutely nothing to do with the interpretation that followed. Played loud hip-hop on a ’90s-era boombox, dancing and drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, the unexpectedly early performers yelled “Hail, Caesar!” to the crowd.

Their show contained a number of inconsistencies within its own theme. The music selections varied from modern rap and Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” to low chanting played in the background. The weapons used in the climactic battle scene lacked sensible organization, some cast members carrying small daggers, others brandishing M16s. The advertisements for the performance said it would be a “modern interpretation,” but it felt as though the directors couldn’t decide if they wanted to make the show new or keep it traditional. 

The costuming didn’t do any favors either. Every actor wore some variation of a work shirt with cargo pants and heavy boots, which stripped the characters of their hierarchy. The audience didn’t know which century or city the show was in, and the lack of costume clues made the story more ambiguous. Julius Caesar, who is the top dog of the Roman Empire in Shakespeare’s original work, was wearing basically the same costume as the chorus, rendering the character nearly invisible.

The show featured copious amounts of fake blood, which, at times, was effective. The characters smeared Caesar’s blood on their faces after the titular character’s dramatic death, adding intensity to the moment. The lighting and smoke effects worked well to add moodiness and drama to the atmosphere. 

Overall, the actors gave excellent performances. The lack of a clear vision for the interpretation, however, made the show hard to follow and inconsistent.