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Julius Caesar starring Julian Glover – review at Bristol Old Vic – ‘strong and lucid’

Julian Glover and company in Julius Caesar at Bristol Old Vic. Photo: Simon Purse Julian Glover and company in Julius Caesar at Bristol Old Vic. Photo: Simon Purse
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This politically charged, modern-dress version of Julius Caesar marks a second collaboration between the Bristol Old Vic and students from the independent BOV Theatre School.

It is a slow-burner during the opening conspiracy scenes, but sweeps along with the ferocity of a forest fire after the Senate assassination, successfully unlocking most of the pertinent messages about civic power and leadership.

As with Timothy West`s King Lear last year, the cast embraces a trio of experienced players, all with strong Bristol links, augmented by Theatre School students taking part in their final-year production.

On the professional front, Julian Glover is a vainglorious yet also august Caesar, Lynn Farleigh lends his wife Calpurnia formidable intelligence, and Theatre School former head of acting John Hartoch is a fragile Soothsayer.

This leaves ample opportunities for the leading student contingent. Freddie Bowerman’s Brutus struggles vigorously with his own inbred sense of honour, Ross O’Donnellan brings the first real passion to proceedings in Mark Antony’s famous crowd oration, and Edward Stone is a bitter but never bigoted Cassius.

Director Simon Dormandy ensures there is life in abundance in the likes of the conspirator Metellus Cimber (played by Afolabi Alli) and Brutus’ servant Lucia (Alice Kerrigan). Meanwhile, Theatre School Masters student Eleanor Bull`s contemporary costumes deftly avoid the controversy surrounding the current Public Theater production in New York`s Central Park, where Caesar has been styled as the spitting image of Donald Trump.

 

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Verdict
A strong and lucid production from a company of professional and student performers
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