Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Albuquerque/Santa Fe

Julius Caesar
The Ides of March Get Rough and Tumble
Duke City Repertory Theatre
Review by Rob Spiegel

Also see Rob's review of Real Women Have Curves and Stephanie's review of West Side Story


John Heard
Photo by Rick Galli
Like any theatregoer, I have pet preferences—anything contemporary and new, and anything Shakespeare. Much as I love Chekhov, the contemporary send-up of his The Seagull, Stupid Fucking Bird by Aaron Posner—recently presented at Fusion—was tons more fun. And oddly, it was a deeper dive into Chekhov psychology. As for Shakespeare, I'll take it in any form, as long as the language remains. Hamlet with cells phones at the Vortex? Certainly. Romeo and Juliet in a cityscape during Shakespeare on the Plaza? Of course.

The Duke City Repertory has given us a Shakespeare production every couple seasons. Their A Midsummer Night's Dream during the 2013-2014 season was absolutely charming, even with all of the characters scrunched into the handful of Rep actors. Once again, the Rep takes on Shakespeare with its current production of Julius Caesar. When produced poorly, the play can sink into a talking-fest slog. In the Rep's hands, it stays lively.

Non-Rep director John Hardy has done the audience a few good turns with his take on on the classic play. The story can run a bit dry as it delves into its betrayals and comeuppance over and over. The solution: cut it to a 75-minute one-act. Caesar's assignation can become stately, stagey, and tension-free, since it's so obviously coming for so long. The answer: turn it into a brawl that is near Three-Stooges exuberant.

Nobody in town does rough and tumble better than the Duke City Rep players. It's a wonder nobody gets hurt. Their fight scenes and physical pratfalls are as tightly choreographed as The Nutcracker. Caesar's lustful, physical murder comes as both a relief and a joy during a death scene that is often grim and tasteful.

The rest of the story plays out the moral repercussions of a bloody conspiracy. There's no escaping it. Deep in our hearts we'd love to see the connivers get away with it, just to break the suffocating moral balance. But dark as Shakespeare can get, he's not perverse. Hardy's solution? Make quick work of the inevitable.

The Rep players are delightful and getting more so. One advantage of using an outside director like Hardy is that all six of the Rep players get to act in the play. The performances are lovely throughout. Ezra Colon and Frank Taylor Green are in high physicality in contrast to Josh Heard's sweetness.

Katie Becker Colon, Amelia Ampuero, and Lauren Myers are strong as always. They are playing mostly male roles, since the play is overwhelmingly populated with male characters. But it works, and it's a nice twist against the Elizabethan age when male actors played all the female roles.

So, thanks for the abbreviating the play, thanks for including all six of the Rep players, and thanks for continuing to offer up the Bard. Nice production.

Julius Caesar, by William Shakespeare was adapted and directed by John Hardy and produced by the Duke City Repertory Theatre. The show runs at the Cell Theatre at 700 1st. St. NW, Thursdays through Sundays through March 20, 2016. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday performances begin at 8:00 pm. Sunday performances begin at 2:00 pm. Adults are $22; seniors, military, and students are $14; children up to 17 are $7. On Thursdays, adults are $12, and kids up to 17 are $7. For reservations, go to dukecityrep.com or call 797-7082.


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