REVIEW: SRT Takes On Julius Caesar for their Annual Shakespeare In The Park

SRT Julius Caesar

CONTENT: Michelle Ng
IMAGES: Singapore Repertory Theatre

The Singapore Repertory has brought many of Shakespeare’s works (Romeo & Juliet, Othello, Macbeth) to the stage, but this time they’ve turned one of his most renowned works into a modern adaptation. Whether you’ve read the play or not, you would have heard about Julius Caesar mentioned in passing.

And it’s with mindset that I went into Fort Canning Park.

Despite the slow start whilst trying to introduce the story of Julius Caesar to the audience, the play started picking up towards the halftime. The intense monologues with an absolutely stunning set that had everything from TV screens and a running fountain slowly draw you into the plot. Each character has their own character arc that are all dangerously entwined, especially when these characters are responsible for so many others.

Director Guy Unsworth was inspired by images of the G20 and N.A.T.O. summits, thus leading to the creation of a political thriller. The main power players that resulted in the beginning of the Roman Empire become leaders of R.O.M.E.7, and we loved how females were also casted as part of the main cast. It feels like things were moving quite fast in the play, as Unsworth managed to seamlessly include the use of technology like news reporters and guns to really deliver an impact.

Julius Caesar

The plot boils down to a very key human element that always leads to the downfall of a person – morals. Even if you knew nothing about the Roman politician or politics, it’s the pure genius of Shakespeare that is a testament to his ability to portray timeless situations. Whether it was back in the 100B.C.s or in the modern day present climate, the same conflicts will always arise.

We were rooting for the underdogs – the rebels of the state. As if there weren’t enough antagonists, these same rebels bring to light all the underhanded tactics in the name of ‘doing the righteous deed’. There was even a scene that reminded us of all the current horrors that ISIS is committing in the name of their leader, but you’ve got to watch it to find out the reference. All we can say is that the original play was a tragedy, and so is SRT’s version. Plus a whole lot more action, greed and death.

While it was a bit uneasy trying to imagine people in the modern times using old language sayings like ‘thou’, the only thing that really bugged me was that Caesar and Cassius couldn’t decide if they wanted to be females or males. It’s surprising that they had females play the roles of two major characters, but decide on a gender and stick to it. Some characters were calling them ‘he’, with others calling them ‘she’. It’s something that can be easily overlooked, but it’s just a scratch on a clear glass screen.

Shakespeare In The Park – Julius Caesar is staged till 27 May at 7:30pm at Fort Canning Park. The gates will open at 6.30pm for those who wish to choose their favourite spot to picnic. Tickets from $45 to S$95 and are still available from www.sistic.com.sg, at all SISTIC outlets and the booking hotline (65) 6348 5555 or www.srt.com.sg/show/juliuscaesar

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