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Julius Caesar - Free
Published on Friday, 26 August 2011

3 stars

Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters (venue website)
15-28 Aug, 12:15pm-1:15pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Recommended for age 12+ only.

Seeing an all-female adaptation of Julius Caesar was always a good choice for me, because even if I’d considered it a complete pile of dung, I could fully get on board with its aim to empower women in a generally misogynistic era. As it turns out, this play isn’t a complete pile of dung at all.  And I still walked out feeling like some female warrior – probably extremely obnoxious, but fun nonetheless.

I learned another lesson too – because this was a free show, and I wasn’t expecting this to be quite as good as it was. Naturally, there were several extremely empowered females, and very few men; the latter were treated as subordinates (albeit in a rather respectful way). The gender reveral wasn’t a shock to me after reading the programme blurb, but it was refreshing to see women take a more prolific place in a Shakespeare piece.

Cutting Julius Caesar into an hour-long production is a mammoth task in itself: you need the right amount of balance between fighting and plot, otherwise it becomes either extremely boring or pretty pointless. This production achieves a decent balance. Julius Caesar, in particular, is played with an excellent amount of gusto and diplomatic arrogance. They’ve also kept in quite a few of the lines that refer to gender, which links a theme with the interpretation – a thing that quirky adaptations often forget.

But sometimes, I did think the whole play was an excuse for some women to get up, put on the war paint and wrestle like warriors for a while. The fight scenes were plentiful (in fact, they comprised almost the entire second half of the play) and they weren’t always incredibly fascinating, even though they were always wonderfully dramatic. So no, the production wasn’t perfect, but it was so energetic and done with such heart that even the criticisms can be forgiven.

If you’re looking for an hour to kill and you really need to fit in that one last Shakespeare play (bcause God knows there aren’t enough of them), hop along to Julius Caesar and get yourself empowered. The female Caesar, Athony and Brutus could certainly teach a lot of things to the girls I saw hanging out at the venue bar on Saturday night!

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