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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Capital Punishment

    It seems appropriate that “Julius Caesar” is in Arizona Repertory Theatre’s election year line-up.

    William Shakespeare’s political tragedy doesn’t need a change of setting to be modern, 44 BC Rome works just fine. The play is packed with the same power plays seen in politics today — though today’s backstabbing is figurative.

    In “Caesar,” the cunning Cassius (Joe Hubbard) convinces Brutus (James Conway) to conspire to assassinate his friend Julius Caesar (Aaron Blanco) to prevent him from becoming king in order to save Rome from his ambition.

    The play’s tone is set wonderfully thanks to all involved. Jacob Halliday’s sound design is ominous and makes even transitions between scenes gripping. Patrick Holt’s costuming is magnificent. Caesar’s opening ensemble is one of ART’s best and works well with Jessica Creager’s chilling lighting design to make Caesar’s entrance stunning.

    The cast is solid and all members have a clear understanding of Shakespeare’s language. Hubbard’s portrayal of Cassius is one of the best. He is unafraid of being creative in his gestures and is careful to play the multiple sides of his complicated character.

    Likewise, Robert Don Mower, much like his character Mark Antony, knows how to work a crowd. Mower’s portrayal of Antony’s ability to spin public opinion certainly calls to mind situations today that are often talked about under the idiom “media circus.” There’s a reason last year’s political drama with Ryan Gosling and George Clooney was dubbed “The Ides of March” in reference to Shakespeare’s classic. Politicians today still must choose between integrity and personal gain, a politician’s spouse is still generally someone who sits patiently on the sidelines and Washington certainly has no shortage of conspiracy theories.

    This powerful production does have occasional moments that pull you out of the action, such as the unusual number of female voices in the war scenes and Brutus’ tendency to fall into a few repetitive gestures that stagnate his otherwise compelling performance.

    Neither of these, however, should deter you from spending a night in Rome — but don’t be surprised if ART’s brilliant production makes it feel a bit more like Washington than expected.

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