Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Heather Ann Gottlieb
Produced by Steven Brandon, Mark Laird, Bradley Gosnell, Rachel Rios and Ari Stidham
Running November 30 – December 15, 2018
Performed outdoors at a private residence in Tarzana on November 30 and December 1 and will be performed indoors December 7, 8 and 9 at the Secret Rose Theatre, 11246 W Magnolia Blvd, NoHo Arts District 91601. The run concludes on December 15 at the Hudson Loft, 1200 S. Hope Street, Los Angeles, 90015.
Julius Caesar is very famously not about the title character.
His closest friend Brutus is the central story and it’s his struggle with honor and loyalty, patriotism and justice that forms the major themes of the play.
Delany Milbourn as Brutus, Sam Roberts as Cassius
It couldn’t, of course, be any more pertinent to just about everything on the news right now. But then Shakespeare has a habit of time traveling and ridiculous relevance no matter the play or even the plot. There are always parallels in his work with anything you are currently participating in, personally or on a more global level. That’s just one of the many reasons why he is still loved, performed and incessantly quoted.
This particular production has the added congruity of a cast entirely populated by female actors. How very “right now,” you might think and of course you would be correct. But what’s so very interesting about this production is how completely and immediately I forgot as soon as the play began that these iconic roles, traditionally performed by men, were, in fact, not. If this showed me anything it is that gender in theatre is much more irrelevant and fluid than we all usually assume and these particularly excellent actors made it shockingly unimportant.
Delaney Milbourn as Brutus
We all know the play, the drama, the murder, the plot, the ghost of Caesar and the bewaring of “The Ides of March,” which was dramatically and comically ignored. But this play is really all about passion. The passion of comrades, the passion of politics and the all too human ability to confuse passion with being right. I know I can get very holier than thou at times, especially lately and a bit overexcited. I can easily imagine making the wrong turn given the right set of circumstances, encouragement, strategically placed lies and weaponry.
I saw this play outside in Tarzana in a very lovely garden setting and, although it was a bit drafty, they did have copious amounts of blankets and hot coffee so it was rather wonderful, really. I love Shakespeare outside, it’s how it was almost always originally performed and we are lucky enough that we live in L.A., where bad weather is infrequent. Although I did feel a bit sorry for the ladies in the togas…it was cold! The rest of the run will be performed inside, something for which I can only assume they will all be very grateful!
Sam Roberts as Cassius
This is a great production, full of earnest and beautifully wrought performances and slyly amusing interpretations. Perhaps the female urge toward sardonic wit gives the plot a little more edge. But then we always do things just a little drier and with just a little more coolly vicious and epic serendipity, don’t we? Shakespeare is a gift and producing plays that remind us just how lucky we are to have this language in our lives is important. Doing it as brilliantly as this deserves our gratitude.
I highly recommend “Julius Caesar” by The Irreverent Shakespeare Project.
It’s not a long run so get your gold coins out quick!
Delaney Milbourn, Samantha Roberts, Michelle Wicklas, Nefe Iredia, Beverlee Jean, Alicia LeBlanc, Courtney Reece, Tania Ayoub, and Reed Sights