Directed by Ted Eaton
The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble
Final performances March 21–23 at 8 p.m.
La Sala de Puerto Rico, MIT Stratton Student Center
The MIT Shakespeare Ensemble’s production of “Julius Caesar” premiered last Friday, with over twenty-five MIT students contributing to the show as either cast or crew. The story is about the conspiracy against Julius Caesar, and his assassination in 44 BC. Although it is a historical play, “Julius Caesar” does not focus significantly on the facts and logistics of the conspiracy, but instead illuminates the psychological basis and internal struggles of the characters in the play.
A historical Shakespearean play might sound like an effective sleep inducer, but The Ensemble did a good job of moderately modernizing the play, and making it more comprehensible for the audience. The stage was completely surrounded by seats, which gave a slight Globe Theater effect to the show and allowed the actors to interact with the audience members. Indeed, the actors would often break the “fourth wall” and draw the viewers into a world of Roman corruption, patriotism, skewed friendship and even occasional comedy.
During the first part of the show, the dialogues do not reveal much about the characters’ personalities, but as soon as the story develops, the stage turns into a parade of captivating Roman citizens. Brutus (Katie A. Roe ’14) becomes a torn-by-his-own-thoughts character, Caesar (Christopher D. Smith ’13) becomes detached from reality, Casca (Mark L. Velednitsky ’14) flavors the story with a bit of lunacy, and characters such as the poet Cinna (Nicholas J. Benson ’16) add so much humor to the plot that the entire setting becomes surreal. The scenes switch periodically from blood-soaked fights to time-frozen introspections of characters’ thoughts and the play ends almost abruptly, leaving the audience with some food for thought.
In case you are looking for something fun to do over the weekend, The Ensemble will be performing “Julius Caesar” tonight and tomorrow at 8 p.m. in La Sala de Puerto Rico. Just watching the show will be entertaining, but if you want to experience Caesar’s blood on your own hands and Casca’s psychotic acts en face, make sure you get those front-row seats.