Vincent Pontet, coll.CF

Julius Caesar

Reviewer's Rating

“Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe?” Full of rhetorical questions and eloquent speeches as instruments of mass persuasion used by politicians failing to deliver their promises to the people, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar allows us to rediscover the past while reflecting on the present.

Performed on a traverse stage frequently used at Le Vieux-Colombier, this creation is the first adaptation of Shakespeare’s masterpiece into French, starring a woman as Julius Caesar, beautifully interpreted by Martine Chevallier.

In fact, the cast respects the parity between men and women with five actresses and five actors. For Rodolphe Dana, it seemed unthinkable not to have the play reflect current social and political news, demonstrating his will to stage contemporary theatre.

One would think that with such a refreshing cast and powerful script the play could not fail, yet besides two or three great performers, the characters overall lack individuality and the play seems to drag for too long.

The play focuses on the historical overthrowing of the emperor picturing Caesar as a wolf and the Romans as sheep where the motto is “to act or to perish”. The Romans are rarely shown, they appear as an easily persuadable mass through revolving sound.

However, in a beautifully long herald tirade, Cassius praises suicide as a political act of rebellion. Moreover, Caesar’s wife Calpurnia is beautifully played by Claire de La Rüe du Can as she appears dressed in a magnificent silk nightgown to beg her husband to stay home after waking up from a bad dream.

Ignoring the multiple signs of his near death, Caesar is persuaded by Brutus to go to the Senate anyway. The Emperor’s last moments are convincing, betrayed by his men his last words are a cry of despair “You too, Brutus?”. After stabbing him to death, Brutus and the other killers symbolically wash their hands in Caesar’s blood.