Braving the rain to head to Coram Fields for this Julius Caesar, directed by Paul Gladwin, is thoroughly worth the risk, and the kind provision of umbrellas make for an even sounder proposition.
In the beautiful open space, with a sparse three tents and table and chairs as only sets, the 30-strong cast of actors and musicians make for a pleasingly naturalistic ensemble. Gladwin's direction is impeccably timed; scenes connect seamlessly and the focus is clear and consistent.
Each character well-defined, and, despite the large cast, everyone has a moment to shine. The atmospheric music from guitars, drums and flutes further showcases the skills of the actors and ranges from sweet melodies to thundering battle drums.
Julius Caesar (Cameron Robertson), here a powerful, suited politician, with trusted military friend Mark Antony (Matt Gardner) neatly update the play. Tobias Deacon's Brutus has a wonderful chemistry with his fellow actors, his character ranging from deeply unsettling to powerful, to touching.
Tom Lionetti-Maguire as Cassius is wonderfully versatile, and has a moving finish. Annabelle Brown as Portia brings out a loving and comical side to Brutus and shows her strong female energy in the man's world.
Caesar's famous assassination builds well, but lacks some viciousness in the event, though Gardner's maddened Antony brings back the painful mood.
The weather helpfully colluded as rain poured on Brutus as he makes his speech and washes himself of the blood on his hands.
The weather clears in time for the more dramatic and brutal latter half, revealing an even deeper vulnerability to the characters as each one fights with his conscience. The actual fight scenes are precisely and creatively choreographed by Gardner. It is rare that actors do pain and dying so well as here. Highly recommended.