Review: An African Tale by Shakespeare

Review: Heat, Dust and Shakespeare
Julius Caesar
Royal Shakespeare Theatre
Stratford on Avon

By Richard Lutz

Director Greg Doran spent some time in South Africa and while there an actor told him: ‘Julius Caesar is Shakespeare’s African play.’

He must have taken this to heart.  His new production  by the RSC has an all African cast and the emotional pitch, the music, the costumes and even the fevered pace of the play ensures you are in a different land than Bards-ville.

Heat and dust  emanates from the stage at Stratford and without an interval break it drives forward at a sharpish 2 hours 15 minutes- pretty curt work for a Shakespeare play.

Great acting from   an imperiously vain Jeffery Kisson (Caesar),   a conscious-stricken Paterson Joseph (Brutus) and a revolutionary Cyril Nri (Cassius). Set design is stark, minimalist and you know damn well that the gargantuan statue of Caesar in the backdrop is going to have a dramatic tumble somewhere towards the end (it does).

Doran, in a recent interview, said: Our production does not seek to address the problems of Africa or offer solutions- merely to allow Shakespeare’s genius for human and political insight…’

If that’s the case, this production is bang on.

+Until 7 July at Stratford, then touring . Box office: 0844 800 1110.