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First night of ‘Julius Caesar’ at the Aylesbury Waterside

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Ray Fearon (Marc Anthony) and Paterson Joseph (Brutus) in conflict in Julius Caesar

I realise that I’m in grave danger of sounding like a sad middle-aged woman oggling a whole load of fit actors. Oh SOD IT. Julius Caesar is a wonderful play by Mr Shakespeare, no matter who’s standing on stage, but I’d rather see Ray Fearon donning a toga than Simon Russell Beale. Shallow but true!

Right, now I’ve got that over with, I shall re-insert my brain and tell you that this RSC version of the play, straight from the West End and now playing at the Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, is exceptionally good.

A brilliant idea to go with an all-black cast and create parallels between ancient Rome and Africa’s shaky modern present. I loved the band that threaded live African music throughout the play (you can see them in the photo above) and also played the audience and in and out of the auditorium – they were given a massive cheer on the curtain call.

All the actors were impressive, but I particularly loved Jeffery Kissoon’s autocratic, egocentric Julius Caesar , Paterson Joseph’s charismatic ‘honourable man’ Brutus and Muddy Favourite’s fave Ray Fearon (see his interview in Featured Posts) as the vengeful Marc Anthony.

Jeffery Kissoon’s Julius Caesar – dangerous egotist or honourable republican?

Would I urge you to go? Actually I would. Mr Muddy is my barometer for low cultural standards (his favourite programmes include Road Cops, 999 Blackpool and other late night classics). Though he was keeping up his tradition of momentarily dropping off in the first half of a performance, having previously managed it in Chicago and The Iceman Cometh, he perked up once a lady in front of us had fainted and been removed – I am not making this up! – and by the end of the play he was absolutely raving about it.

Of course, you have to be in the mood for sixteenth century English (the play was written in 1599), and if you’re not into that kind of thing it’s obviously not worth your while. It’s long, at 2 hrs 45 minutes, so I’d leave younger kids well and truly at home. But if you’re into the classics, are fascinated by politics, or are interested in a really fresh interpretation of a history play, it’s a fantastic production that truly earned its whooping applause at the end of the night.

Julius Caesar, Aylesbury Waterside Theatre, until 22 September 2012. Tickets £10-30.

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