Julius Caesar review: Cross gender casting makes for an interesting spin on power politics

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Sad as it seems, it is the way of the world. Diane Page’s lean production with just 8 actors playing all the parts is designed for maximum adaptability to tour around the UK in almost any size venue.

With just a statue of Caesar centre stage, which is pulled down and carried off through the Globe’s groundlings (mainly tourists and schoolchildren on this night) following the satisfyingly bloody assassination of the real life model played by Dickon Tyrrell, it relies heavily on the actors to keep the drama flowing.

Cross gender casting includes a female Cassius (Charlotte Bate) and ditto Brutus (Anna Crichlow) which puts an interesting spin on power politics and women’s continued struggle against a ruling patriarchy.

There are some good ideas that are never fully explored – the fleeting suggestion that Mark Antony (Samuel Oatley) is having a fling with Caesar’s wife Calpurnia (Amie Francis) and Brutus and Portia’s (Cash Holland) same-sex marriage.

In an intriguing reversal, Cassius seems more honorable in her lethal commitment to regime change than her indecisive co-conspirator, Brutus.

It’s a solid, fitfully exciting production that benefits from (largely) clear diction and good performances from Bate as a powerfully articulate Cassius, Oatley whose Mark Antony is a squaddie with leadership material especially in the great “Friends, Romans and Countrymen” speech and Jack Myers who brings a cool cynicism to Casca.

And a tip of the hat to Omar Bynon who livens things up no end by injecting a mischievous humour into his various roles.

Shakespeare’s Globe until September 10 and UK Tour until September 3. Tickets: 020 7401 9919 (Tour: shakespearesglobe.com)

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