Julius Caesar

June 8, 2010By Pierre TranArchive
julius caesar, tower theatre co., jardin shakespeare, bois de boulogn, paris

Mark Anthony (Gately Freeman, center) arrives on the scene of Caesar’s assassination in the Tower Theatre Company’s Paris production of Julius Caesar. Photo: Michelle Roebuck

Thank Shakespeare for great theater. Can you imagine a world without such lines as “Cry ‘Havoc’ and let slip the dogs of war,” and …

julius caesar, tower theatre co., jardin shakespeare, bois de  boulogn, paris

Mark Anthony (Gately Freeman, center) arrives on the scene of Caesar’s assassination in the Tower Theatre Company’s Paris production of Julius Caesar. Photo: Michelle Roebuck

Thank Shakespeare for great theater. Can you imagine a world without such lines as “Cry ‘Havoc’ and let slip the dogs of war,” and “For Brutus is an honorable man”?

Without Julius Caesar, our language would be a great deal poorer in imaginative power. Frederick Forsyth, among many other authors (click here for a site listing around 90 book titles taken from the play), must be very grateful.

And where would we be without the drama, which so deftly portrays ambition, political treachery and mob mentality? The psychology of Mark Anthony’s funeral speech for Caesar, which turns the hearts and minds of the Roman public around, is simply remarkable. It has to be heard to be believed. Therein lies the power of live theater.

Thanks to the excellent band of players of the Tower Theatre Company of London, audiences were recently able to enjoy the intrigues and rhetoric of ancient Rome at the beautiful Jardin Shakespeare in the Bois de Boulogne’s Pré Catalan garden.

Penny Tuerk skillfully directed the 15-strong cast led by Michael Mayne as Caesar, Ed Malcomson as Brutus, Laurence Ward as the lean and hungry Cassius, and an impressive Gately Freeman as the avenger Mark Anthony.

The highly able seconds performed the many roles needed to fill the greensward of that beautiful garden with a cast of thousands, including the notoriously fickle and dangerous Roman mob, the chorus, battling legions, bloody handed conspirators, and a heart-wringing Portia, with Simona Hughes playing the wife of Brutus, Caesar’s anguished friend who is just trying to do right by the Republic.

The setting is simply exquisite. For nature lovers (pray, who is not?) the grounds are planted with mature oak, willow, silver birch, beech, lime and even a palm tree. And over the deathless prose declaimed in the open air, the shrill notes of birdsong delight the ears.

On a sunny Sunday afternoon, the audience included many young children, quite a few of them under 10, and their good behavior was to be marveled at, considering their tender years and the unfamiliar cadences of 17th-century English. All credit to them and to their parents for taking them to sample Shakespeare at an early age.

Tower Theatre, a nonprofit London-based company, has been staging Shakespeare performances in the park in Paris since 1992. The company performs here in the first week of June, so do jot that down in your diary for next year.

Pierre Tran

Tower Theatre Company: St. Bride Foundation, Bride Lane, London EC4Y 8EQ. Admin & fax: 020 7353 5700. Box office: 020 7353 1700. Text messages: 07948 276043. E-mail: info@towertheatre.freeserve.co.uk. www.towertheatre.org.uk/paris.htm

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