Monday, December 12, 2005

Et tu, Brute?

Went to the theatre the other night and caught The Actors Studio's (TAS) production of JULIUS CAESAR. Like many people, my recollection of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar is in the classroom - now so many years removed - when Malaysian schools still saw value in acquainting their students with English literature.

But I digress. Joe Hasham, the director/artistic director of the play literally wrung the challenging piece into a minimalist fare more suited to attention deficit theatre goers of the day. No mean achievement when you think about it. The new adaptation worked quite well, its political intrigue now shaped by 13 characters (the original had about 40), with new lines and off-stage voice-overs to fill in the gap - to run its bloody course within 90 minutes. The soundscape by two a.m. was unusual but effective - all voices and echo reverberating with pain and conflict, while accentuating the inner turmoil of the main players. Creepy too. What with the crackling lightning, thunder and dry-ice. Held at the newly opened Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre (KLPAC), the sensation of being in an unfamiliar place heightened anticipation and dislodged preconceived images.

However I thought Kennie Dowle's Julius Caesar was too brusque and a tad too loud. I imagine a more regal and subtle interpretation would have made Brutus's (Ari Ratos) treachery more ambiguous, less obvious, even honourable. That would have given Marc Anthony's (played by an exellent Gavin Yap) final "lend me your ears" speech more persuasive power, as he skillfully overturned audience's empathy towards Brutus and his co-conspirators in magisterial style.

Related link:
Christina Orow's review posted on

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