Monday, December 3, 2018

Margin Notes: Julius Caesar

Mia Isabella Aguirre as Marcus Brutus (with Noah Ruff as Cassius).
Photo by Mia Isabella Photography.

Seen on: Friday, 11/30/18.
My grade: B+

Plot and Background
Hamlet Isn't Dead's latest venture, about the rise and fall of both Julius Caesar and his assassins.

What I Knew Beforehand
I've reviewed and enjoyed HID's productions over the last several years, and I've seen a few productions of Caesar as well.


Play: Director Emily Jackson inverts the Balcony Theater so that the audience is seated in the pit, looking up at a stepped space, allowing for dynamic (and literal) level-playing, as well as facilitating the many side-conference schemes that happen throughout. The stage pictures created against this are clear and interesting, with the audience leaning forward, leaning in, part of the crowd and unseen witness to inner turmoils. Part of the flavor of a HID production, aside from the live music, is the playful approach to the text by the performers, tossing in sotto voce (or simply voce) asides during each other's speeches. In the comedies, this usually works fairly well, and adds to the enjoyment of the story unfolding; but somehow here, perhaps because it's a weightier story, it undercuts (at least for me), some of the moments of rhetoric for which this play is known.

Cast: As usual with a HID production, the cast is versatile and playful, drawing the audience into conversation. Particular standouts include Samantha Maurice as the fierce Cinna (as well as one of the more fervent citizens at the funeral), Billie Wyatt as the loyal but cranky Lucius, Travis Klemm as the doltish Casca, Anna Stacy's fiery Marc Antony, and Mia Isabella Aguirre's pensive but righteous Brutus.

Design: Tyler M. Perry's lighting design adds a thrilling new dimension to HID's landscape, with a chilly moonlight washing over the late-night conspirators, or the flashing uncertainty of a stormy night. Jordan Brooks leads a three piece rock band, whose raucous uproar stands in for the clamor of the crowds, or underscores moments of decision or the exciting battle scenes choreographed by Greg Pragel.


Running: Now playing at Balcony Theater at the Center at West Park (Hamlet Isn't Dead) - Opening: November 29, 2018. Closing: December 8, 2018.
Category: classical play
Length: 2 hours, including intermission.

Creative Team

Playwright: William Shakespeare
Director: Emily Jackson  Assistant Director: Sophia Carlin
Designers: Tyler M. Perry (Set and Lighting), Jordan Brooks (Composer and Musical Director), Greg Pragel (Fight Director).
Cast: Andy Ingalls, Anna Stacy, Ben Sheppard, Billie Wyatt, Joshua H. Riffle, Maureen Fenninger, Mia Isabella Aguirre, Noah Ruff, Reid Watson, Samantha Maurice, Scott Brieden, Travis Klemm.

Travis Klemm as Casca (with Mia Isabella Aguirre as Marcus Brutus).
Photo by Mia Isabella Photography.

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