By Michael Petroski
The theater department’s production of “Julius Caesar” by William Shakespeare was re-thought by the director Jo Curtis Lester and featured Sunday, May 3 at the Shea Theatre on the Ammerman Campus.
The play was “modernized,” and Caesar was played by Golda Kelli Ryan a woman. Instead of wearing togas, the players wore suits and ties and “Nightwear.” The first scenes presented the calm before the storm, but Caesar had to watch her back because conspirators were trying to get rid of her.
In Act II Brutus and the others were in a war zone fighting for who was the right person to lead. The people working the stage lights and other backstage projects did their jobs well, by meeting the demands of the lighting changes and timing.
While the first part of the play covered Caesar’s life, the later part of the play brought on the action. One scene which “freaked out” the people in the audience occurred when Brutus’s wife revealed a huge knife wound on her leg. During these first few scenes people were dressed in suits and dresses. But they were still talking as if this were the original play by Shakespeare, including the lines “Beware the ides of march” said by the Soothsayer played by Shannon Gage and “Ei Tu Brutui?” which translates to “You too Brutus.” This was said by Caesar to Brutus after he stabbed Caesar. In this rendition of the play the mastermind behind this was Cassius played by JP Groeniger. After the death of Caesar, Mark Antony, played by Robert Doyle, tried and succeeded in turning the people of Rome against Brutus.
The first part of the play, apart from the stabbing of Caesar, was pretty difficult to follow, but it was possible to understand for those who knew the story. The first part was cool to see unfold up to Caesar’s death.
The 2nd part of the story has the remaining players (Antony,Brutus, Cassius, Lucius (Played by Kevin Berger) and others) fighting in a war, in which there was a lot of blood and death. These scenes showed on one side Brutus and Cassius dressed in commando clothing and fighting with knives. On the other side was Mark Antony dressed in black armor and fighting with nightsticks. These scenes showed a lot of blood (fake blood) and fighting that seemed to come straight out of the Power Rangers TV show. These last few scenes show the “deaths” of many players including Cassius (Via knife) and finally Brutus (being shot by Lucius) the bang from the “gun” was so loud it almost seemed real. Over all, the second part of the play was well performed, but the fighting scenes seemed forced and fake. The fake blood was used a lot from the stabbing of Caesar to the shooting of Brutus. There should not have been that much blood, even for this bloody and violent play.
This showing was one of the best available on campus in a while. This play was different from the traditional play everyone knows and loves, but this rendition of the classic was very creative and smart on the behalf of the director and everyone involved whether on the stage or backstage.