Sunday, July 21, 2019
‘Julius Caesar’ Asks You to Lend Your Ears
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Kevin Wade, who plays the soothsayer, confronts Brutus, played by Brett Moellenberg.
 
Tuesday, May 7, 2019
 

STORY BY KAREN BOSSICK

PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE SPOT

“Julius Caesar” may be known for its lofty monologues and its phrases that have become part of our lexigon.

Who hasn’t heard: “Beware the Ides of March.”  “Et tu, Brute?” “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.” “It’s Greek to me.” “Men at some time are masters of their fates.” And “This is the most unkindest cut of all”?

 
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Patrick Mazzella, as Cassius, notes that “the fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
 

But the choreography also rises to the top and very effectively in The Spot’s current production of “Julius Caesar.”

The deft synchronization of cubes not only serves to establish new scenes in The Spot’s very tight space but gives actors an amazing workout. And, at times, it can be mesmerizing, even as the cast of bodies scramble to convey battle and unrest in the marketplace.

As far as anyone can remember, this is the first time the Sun Valley theater scene has played homage to Rome’s best-known emperor through the immortal words of Shakespeare. And the cast of The Spot has done a skilled job of staging a classic that seems particularly fitting for a day in which everyone seems to have an opinion about the way governing is carried out and no one seems willing to compromise.

Director Kevin Wade says The Spot did not undertake this production with the intent of pointing fingers at anyone. But, across the country many such productions are meeting with controversy as their casts appear to make their productions about contemporary political figures and political battles, nationalism and patriotism.

 
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Chris Henderson as Casca relates to Cassius and Brutus how Antony offered the crown to Caesar three times and how each time Caesar declined it. But he intimates that Caesar plans on taking the crown.
 

The Spot’s telling is simple and straightforward. The actors, clothed similarly in black and grey, waste no time in introducing the audience to the muddle of opinions in the public forum, which sits right between audiences on both sides of the theater.

Essentially, a group of high-ranking Romans decided they need to take out Julius Caesar because he’s gotten too big for his toga and his attempt to grab more power threatens the democracy that is Rome’s.

Peter Burke plays Caesar with a regal, authoritative stage presence, while Sara Gorby plays his protective wife Calphurnia, who is chagrinned that her warnings inspired by premonitions go unheeded by her husband.

Yanna Lantz conveys high anxiety as Portia, who demands to know why her husband has been absent from their bed and is unwilling to confide his distress. And Kagen Albright provides a gentle picture of Marc Antony as a man who is loyal to Caesar to the end while respectful of his fellow Romans.

Brutus, who is torn by his love for Caesar and his love for Rome, is played thoughtfully by Brett Moellenberg who offers up great imagery, comparing Caesar to a serpent’s egg that must be destroyed before it hatches and becomes dangerous.

Those who conspire against Caesar do so not because he is a tyrant but because they fear he might become one.

“Shall Rome stand under one man’s awe?” Brutus asks.

And then, (if someone) “demand why Brutus rose against Caesar, this is my answer: not that I loved Caesar less but that I loved Rome more.”

Others in the play include Rachael Aanestad as Decius Brutus, Chris Henderson as Casca and Patrick Mazzella as Cassius—the man who set Caesar’s assassination in motion.

The prose in the play, unlike some of Shakespeare’s, is direct and easy to understand.

The play starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 9 through 11, at The Spot, 220 Lewis St. in Ketchum. Tickets are $25 for the general audience and $13 for those under 30, available at www.spotsunvalley.com.

Run time is two hours and 15 minutes with intermission. But never fear—it goes by quickly.


 

 

 

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