Over the past couple of years, Moira+I seem to have been acting as if we were pair of RSC groupies… we’ve seen seven of its plays, so perhaps this description is becoming pretty accurate!Yesterday, we travelled to Cardiff to see the RSC “on tour” with this rather wonderful all-black British cast giving a fresh take on Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar”. I have to say that, before seeing the play, I thought that the idea of an all-black cast was just something of a director’s gimmick. In the event, this proved to be far from the case and, actually, transposing the action to modern Africa was an inspired decision. Perhaps there really is a much closer correlation between Shakespeare’s “world of poetry and metaphor” (to quote the programme notes) and the hard reality of Africa – where political life is fierce; where “dictators rise and fall like Shakespearian kings and lords”; and where “tribalism is instantly recognisable”. Added to this, the soothsayer becomes a magical force in the form of the shaman.
It’s all a remarkably close fit.
The vibrant music (by Akintayo Akinbode) also contributed, and fitted, wonderfully well to the atmosphere of the production. The whole cast is excellent and there are really impressive individual performances from all the principal characters: Caesar (Jeffery Kissoon), Mark Antony (Ray Fearon), Brutus (Paterson Joseph) and Cassius (Cyril Nri).
Another stunning piece of theatre.
Photo: Paterson Joseph as Brutus, with the soothsayer (Theo Ogundipe).