Shakes’ samurai Caesar: ingenious, or insulting?

Review of Julius Caesar by Ori R., age 17

This presentation of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar would likely insult anyone who believed they were going to see a high-class performance of an esoteric work. The cast of this play -- written about Rome -- was clothed in Japanese Samurai-era garb. Disturbingly, the script was not amended from “Fellow Romans” to “Fellow Japanese,” so the clothes and Japanese backdrop seemed like a horrible joke. Director Gregg Loughridge also changed the play to be a cynical stab at Shakespeare; more travesty than tribute. I was quite insulted that they would choose to break down the serious nature of the play. Any line in the original script that Shakespeare included from one of his other works would be followed by a sarcastic, “Oh, sonnet sixteen,” or “I love that poem!”

David Quicksall and Hana Lass in Julius Caesar. Photo by Erik Stuhaug.

The show also included audience participation, which breaks the fourth wall and is better suited to The Rocky Horror Picture Show than to a cultured performance. Though breaking the fourth wall can be a wonderful concept, the company did so both inappropriately and frequently: during serious scenes, audience members would be called out to respond to a question or make a prophecy. The prophesying was a nice touch, but asking a dozen people, “What is your profession?” seemed excessive and annoying. A cell phone was pulled out on stage, further demolishing the Feudal Japanese setting. These insults to Shakespeare and the audience added up to an offensive level, and extended the actual length of an already lengthy production.

Very little can be said in support of seeing this play, but it had some merit. The storyline is important for teens to know, since it is constantly referenced. Additionally, the theme of treachery and betrayal is a good topic for an English class essay. Aside from the actual play, the venue is fantastic. There is not a bad seat in the house, the stage area is well lit, and the set design is always impeccable. In conclusion, avoid this particular presentation of Julius Caesar, but see the play in the future when another company presents it.

Ori R.
January 4th, 2008

Julius Caesar
Seattle Shakespeare Company

January 2 – 27
More info and show times:
Seattle Shakespeare Company’s ticket office: 206-733-8222
Ticket office hours: Tues – Fri: 1 – 6 p.m. and one hour before curtain Mon, Sat & Sun: One hour before curtain.

Seattle Shakespeare Company is located in the Center House Theatre at Seattle Center. It is served by buses 3,4,5,8,16,19,24,74 and 82. For bus times:

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