Julius Caesar Must Die

Aug 23 2023 | By More

★★★★☆      Committed

theSpace on the Mile (Venue 39): Wed 16 – Sat 26 Aug 2023
Review by Hugh Simpson

Myths Unbound and New Celts charge through Julius Caesar Must Die at theSpace on the Mile with fire and real purpose.

Despite the title change and credit ‘based on Shakespeare’ this is is very much the familiar play. There have been countless Fringe productions that have not changed the names of the original plays that have used fewer of Shakespeare’s words than this one does.

After an opening that seems to suggest it will be set in a nightclub, and some half-hearted audience participation, this becomes a condensed version of Julius Caesar that is remarkably faithful and pretty compelling.

Nathan Young as Caesar Pic: Myths Unbound

The first half – up to Caesar’s death – works better. The rest of the play, which is a less well known story to begin with, suffers more from cuts and is more difficult to follow, but overall it is a taut and atmospheric production, directed with flair and assurance by Edoardo Berto.

The cast of six turn in some remarkably impressive performances. James Hay’s Cassius is particularly fine, combining a real feel for the language with an unforced naturalness. His delivery of the ‘bestride the narrow world like a Colossus’ speech is about as good as it could ever be.

Alisdair Halkett is nearly as good as Brutus; his devotion to Rome and misguided belief in the motives of others, as well as his torment, are well portrayed. The scenes between Hay and Halkett have a particular magnetism.

suitably imperious

Harris Williamson’s first appearance as Casca suffers from an ill-advised stab at ‘drunk’ acting, but he settles down into a convincing performance.

Nathan Young is suitably imperious as both Caesar and Octavius, while Andrea Linhova’s Antony displays the character’s contrasting vulnerable and calculating sides to good effect. Gunnar Bjerke plays a varied selection of roles with panache.

Gunnar Bjerke as Artemidorus. Pic: Myths Unbound.

There is a real impact to much of the staging, making good use of slender resources. The impressionistic fight scenes have considerable power, although the depiction of the closing battle is confused and robs the death of Brutus of its importance and dignity.

There are some other odd choices. The funeral orations of Brutus and Antony being intercut, as if made simultaneously, does not work. Not only does this downplay the cleverness of what Antony is doing, it also means that Brutus leaves the stage in full awareness of what Antony has said – which makes very little sense.

Hay and Bjerke provide sound design that makes good use of drumbeats both martial and electronic. Felicity Anderson-Moore’s costumes are also striking, with their French Revolutionary aesthetic, although the sashes do have the effect of suggesting Morris dancing when the characters stomp across the stage.

However, everything about this production is thought-provoking; this is a great representative of the grand Fringe tradition of cut-down but still powerful Shakespeare.

Running time: 55 minutes (no interval)
theSpace on the Mile (Space 3), 80 High St, EH1 1TH (Venue 39)
Wednesday 16 – Saturday 26 August 2023 (even dates only)
Even dates only at 11.10 am
Tickets and details: Book here.

Myths Unbound links

Facebook: @myths.unbound.productions

Instagram: @myths.unbound

Twitter: @Myths_Unbound



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