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Julius Caesar - Melbourne Fringe Festival - Review

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by Mistress of Culture Vultures (subscribe)
I am a writer living in Melbourne who loves to devour culture and the arts. Visit me at www.pumptheatre.com.au
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I Am No Stronger than My Sex

'Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears'.

Last week I saw Julius Caesar by Essential Theatre at Space 338 as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.

Essential Theatre, Julius Caesar, Melbourne Fringe, Shakespeare, Space 338, 3051, North Melbourne, Queensberry Street, Devon Lang Wilton, Alex Aldrich, Helen Hopkins, Leah Filley, Amanda LaBonte & Sophie Lampel
Julius Caesar at Space 338

Fleur Kilpatrick cast an ensemble of women actors to tell the story of the assassination of Julius Caesar. A pure woman cast is rare in Shakespeare, and in Australia.

So did it make any difference to the plot?

No, the plot remained the same as did the character names. The only difference is that all characters were played by women whereas in Shakespeare's time, they were played by men.

What was Julius Caesar like cast as a woman?

She was scary and appeared cold; willing to sacrifice female collegiality for the greater good. Willing to be despised by peers, to stand alone at the top, to disagree and disarm and ultimately to lose her life for her country. Reminiscent of Hilary Clinton.

Was it power or superficial armour?

If women had the same power and status of men, they are capable of anything, including murder and destruction. The performance presented a range of female relationships, from confidant and lover to betrayer and gang member.

Brutus thought Julius power was superficial, and thought that on killing Caesar, Rome would get better. But like Macbeth the murdered come back to haunt their murderers. Shakespeare has a wonderful way with karma in his plays.

Antony adored Julius and stood by her even after death. Antony is the heroine as she reveals Julius' hidden generosity bestowed to the Roman people in her will.

What leader do you know today, that would leave their entire estate to their fellow citizens?

I did overhear some comments by female audience members -
'it was great to see an all female cast so strong and confident' to 'I think most women are actually meek and mild'.

Theatre that evokes divided opinion is great theatre and invites the audience to think, examine, and reflect upon their world. Theatre is powerful, can challenge opinion and the status quo. Theatre can change society. Theatre is powerful. No more powerful when delivered by an excellent cast.

This performance was solidly delivered. Every line understood and articulated as if Shakespeare was the ensemble's native language. Not only did the actors know their lines, the understood the nuances and delicacy of Shakespeare's writing and the context.

Next time, I would like to see the performance delivered in 'theatre in the round' to really experience the tensions in the conflict.

Ultimately, Essential Theatre delivered a feisty performance at Space 338. The standout performance for me was 'Antony' played by Sophie Lampel.
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Why? What would happen if women ruled the world?
When: 7.30 pm
Phone: 03 9660 9600
Where: Space 338, 338 Queensberry Street, North Melbourne, Vic, 3051
Cost: $25.00 - $30.00
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