Producer/Director Malik B. El-Amin took the story and characters in a bold and unique direction making the staging and story come to full form in each of these actors. Taking some broad liberties with the original text and changing some of the characters gender, Malik’s version of “Julius Caesar” is very different and very entertaining.
Catching my eye, attention and literally mesmorising me with her performance was Cynthia Beckert as Cassius. Cynthia was dynamic, powerful and extremely passionate in her conviction of this woman’s dilemmas with the King and County. Watching her expressions and passions was pure energy and excitement for me.
Jake Suffian plays Brutus with a severe conviction that makes you focus onto his words and feel the confusion and personal agenda conflicting with his beliefs. Jake and Cynthia together on stage became an ‘electric’ experience to watch when they fought and when they kissed.
Now the part of Mark Antony was honestly and powerfully played by Daniel Ball. His enlightened and honest performance made the rivalry of the parties in the senate really believable and his passionate exchanges with Jake were extremely powerful and sincere to his character.
Loud and proud was the performance of Antonio D. Charity as the infamous leader Julius Caesar himself. He was big, strong and bold in his performance. The character of Casca the senator was colorfully played by Vincent J. Isaac. His unique performance was enticing with subtle humor and great expressions. Vincent also played two other roles.
Also, there were some standout performances by Erica Mathlin as Portia, Brutus’ wife who gave a passionate speech to her husband and their distant relationship. Erica Peeples gives a commanding delivery as Octavia, another leader of men in pursuit of her beliefs. Both Ericas play multiple roles with equal conviction and charm.
The Griot Theatre of the West Valley is a full-fledged theatre that also serves to provide theatrical entertainment to everyone, including those theatre goers that are hearing impaired. The stage is clever and utilitarian which gives a ‘Game of Thrones’ feeling. The set was designed by Kis Knekt. Keeping in line with the ‘Thrones’ feel was the clever and colorful costuming by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg. Notably the insertion of again ‘Throne-like’ music as a mood underscore added to the experience.
It was a wonderful production filled with amazing talent. I look forward to The Griot Theatre’s future productions. Check them out: www.GriotTheatre.org
Pic 1 Erica Peeples, Daniel Ball, Jake Suffian and Cynthia Beckert
Pic 2 Antonio D. Charity, Jake Suffian, INSET: Daniel Ball, Cynthia Beckert and Vincent J. Isaac