I have been looking forward to seeing La Boite's production of Julius Caesar for some weeks now. La Boite is theater in the round and they received rave reviews for last years production of Hamlet. So I was surprised and amused at first by the jarring and extremely loud music that the play began with and the drunken cavorting about the stage of a few semi-dressed unnamed characters (see image on right).
My amusement turned to horror when Cassius came out wearing a toga fashioned (and I am not lying) out of a white bed sheet and teamed up with some white sneakers and sports socks. Okay I thought, this may look farcical, but surely it must get better. Brutus was in a white singlet with a pair of footy shorts and thankfully barefoot. But then it got worse (maybe not worse than the bed sheet toga, but pretty damn bad). This was the sneaker/pajama production of Caesar, each time a character came out on stage I made a mental note about their Nikes, or Adidas of either pure white or black. I felt embarrassed for them. I just keep thinking, "why... and for what end?".
The death of Caesar was as predictable as it was poorly executed, with flashing red lights and the worst blood packs I have ever seen. He was running with blood, but it explained why he looked so fat when he came out on stage in a crumpled shirt and suit jacket that also could have done with a good iron. With the stupid red flashing lights was more loud music, as they stabbed Caesar with kitchen (!) knives, like some frenzied shark attack.
The award for worst costume goes to the guy who played (among other things) the old woman at the start who warns Caesar (see image to the left). He was wearing skin tight jeans, no shirt and a fake fur jacket, with his underpants showing above his low lying jeans, tucked into a pair of unlaced boots - but at least they were not sneakers! He was also wearing a cross around his neck - some kind of pre-Jesus prophet?
There were a few redeeming features, but not many, Shakespeare with heavy Australian accents and poor emphasis is really intolerable, and really on the same level as the sneakers and togas. When Caesar was killed, the actors wore suit pants, white shirts and ties and the two females wore black dresses. Had they maintained that aesthetic through out the play, it might have worked. But the togas and fake fur, sneakers and pajamas were jarring and ridiculous. It looked more like a rehearsal than the "real thing". At half time Dylan and I weighed up our options and promptly left, we didn't want to see what they would do to Mark Antony's speech. I am regretting the fifty plus dollars I spent on tickets and the fact that this was my Valentine's Day present to Dylan - sorry darling. I only wish I had a picture of Cassius to show you, but at least you get to see the rock and roll old woman and some plastic armor, and I think you get the idea about my feelings regarding the bed sheet togas and sneakers!
One star and I want my money back.
Both images from the La Boite website.