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Julius Caesar review at Northbury Primary School, Barking – ‘a vivid experience’

Simon Muller and Assad Zaman in First Encounters with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. Photo: Sam Allard

Julius Caesar isn’t the most obvious choice for an audience of children aged seven to 13, but director Marieke Audsley’s new production, for the Royal Shakespeare Company’s First Encounters with Shakespeare series, makes it a vivid experience.

Audsley’s edit positively zips along – clocking in at just 90 minutes, including a lengthy introduction in which the kids are transformed into the citizens of Rome (they embrace the role of angry mob with particular relish), there’s no time to lose.

Natasha Harrison’s full-throttle fight scenes are a big hit, but the dialogue keeps the young audience engaged too.

Alisha Williams as Mark Antony and Tom Lorcan as Brutus, in particular, give wonderfully human and accessible performances. That said, I suspect that children attending public performances, who come to the play fresh, will have more trouble following the action than schools’ audiences who have been studying it ahead of the RSC’s visit.

Max Dorey’s Elizabethan-flavoured costumes do a good job of differentiating between characters – helpful given the amount of doubling – and while his set is relatively simple, a pleasingly theatrical moment gives it a chance to shine.

For a lot of the children that the RSC is visiting as part of this tour, this will be their first exposure to Shakespeare in performance. If their subsequent experiences of his work are half as enjoyable, they’ve got a wonderful theatrical journey ahead of them.

Verdict
Vivid, pacy production of Shakespeare for an audience of seven-to-13 year olds

Production Information

Production
Julius Caesar
Venue
Northbury Primary School
City
Barking
Starts
February 5, 2018
Ends
February 5, 2018, then touring until March 24
Press night
February 5, 2018
Authors
William Shakespeare
Director
Marieke Audsley
Design
Max Dorey
Stage manager
Martha Mamo
Cast includes
Kristin Atherton, Adam Boardman, Louise Collins, Tom Lorcan, Simon Muller, Evlyne Oyedokun, Alisha Williams, Assad Zaman
Producer
Royal Shakespeare Company
Running time
1hr 30mins