Saturday, January 21, 2012

praising, not burying

photo by Heidi Bohnenkamp
 As I lamented in my post on March 15, 2011 ("et tu, dudes?"), people aren't required to read Shakespeare's Julius Caesar in high school anymore; thus, certain phrases have been lost to recent generations: "Beware the Ides of March!", "et tu, Brute?", "I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him", "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears..."

Until last night, I had just seen Julius Caesar performed once.  It was back in my senior year in high school, a class trip to Princeton University.  That production was a traditional staging and very well done, as I recall, and I always prefer a period staging of Shakespeare rather than an updating to more modern times.

The new Guthrie Theater production, in association with the Acting Company, updates the story to present day.  It takes a little time to get used to seeing Caesar and his assassins in business suits, some rap music in the background, the protestors looking very current (even an "Occupy Rome!" sign), but somehow it all works.  The acting is top-notch, of course, especially Will Sturdivant as Brutus.  Brutus is always the star of this play, you know.  Or maybe you didn't know.

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