Caesar brings thrills and the fear factor
IT was director Greg Doran's inspiration to set this political thriller – with its magic portents, tyrannies and short-lived freedoms – in modern Africa.
But what makes this mesmerising production truly remarkable are some extraordinary performances that make its characters so vivid, modern and universal.
The piece opens on a colourful street bazaar, with a chalk-daubed soothsayer, and images of Caesar drawn on cardboard posters. Enter Jeffery Kissoon as the great man, carrying a fly-whisk, the vain idiosyncracies and the irresistible forced bonhomie of the all-mighty.
In fact, apart from a later ghost appearance, Caesar hits the boards with half the play still to go, and the plot really turns around the complex personality of Brutus.
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Paterson Joseph draws out every subtle nuance of his character. It's a fantastic performance, and thanks to Cyril Nri – a choleric Cassius – and Joseph Mydell – a slyly clever Casca, the fragile relationships between all three are riveting to watch.
There is a scary feeling from the outset in this society where all men look over their shoulders as they speak, so it's no surprise that Ray Fearon as Mark Antony can whip up a right frenzy among the mob.
Over two hours and 20 minutes without an interval, helped along by a seven-piece African band, I was gripped throughout.
See it before July 7. For tickets, call 0844 800 1110 or go to www.rsc.org.uk. Colin Davison