The fault in the stars
Julius Caesar, Shakespeare’s morality play about the futility of regicide—no doubt much beloved by rulers everywhere—takes a Victorian turn with a rather matronly Caesar in the formidable Sara Lorraine Hanson. She’s got gravitas, all right, but she also seems benevolent and harmless, a duality that no doubt followed the great empire builder of Britain, Queen Victoria. That’s an intriguing choice by director Luther Hanson, and full of possibilities, but one that isn’t fully realized.
And Hanson’s sedate Caesar makes the plotting and concern for the republic of her assassins—Cassius (Matt Canty), Brutus (Michael Sicilia), Casca (Shelley Russell Riley), Cinna (Kathleen Poe), Decius Brutus (Alejandro Padilla) and Cimber (Tim Raposa)—even less righteous. Her fatal flaw—ambition—seems far less obvious in this version, and the concerns of her assassins thus seem petty.
What the late-19th-century garb—and it is beautiful, especially the silken dresses—does accomplish is bringing a bit of color to a production that relies on one speech after another to move things along. The action is, unfortunately, brief, here: It requires a true Shakespeare fan to stay engaged. Other than the murder itself and the battle scenes near the end of the play, there’s nothing to keep the younger set interested. And, unfortunately, the battle scenes don’t have enough sabers to go around, leaving the actors to go up against each other with long daggers—it’s not the best use of sword time onstage.
Overall, it’s a beautiful but static production, enhanced by onstage music (Sinead Kennedy, Daniel Radu and David Riggs) and a soothsayer (Carley O’Neill-Vann [[[[Carley Niell?]]]]), who adds some beautiful opera singing to the mix.