Globe to Globe blog: Week three - an offer Dan & Giles can't refuse...
Dan and Giles are at Shakespeare's Globe to see I Termini Company perform Julius Caesar in an Italian translation by playwright Vincenzo Mann.
GILES: When Mark Anthony rocks up on stage in his most Italian looking sunglasses a massive dollop of suspension of disbelief is called for. For the sun has not been seen at the Globe since the Kenyans left.
DAN: We have been so lucky with the weather - we haven’t been rained on once (I never have at the Globe). We have come to see Caesar get Whacked. Shakespeare’s most paranoid play. They check our bags on the way in and I wonder if the play has already begun. I was hoping the dark day would save itself for Titus Andronicus (my favourite play of the man from Stratford) but in actual fact for a tale of conspiracy and murder like Caesar the weather couldn’t be more apt. The sky is expecting trouble. With its clear -cut lines of decit and battle Julius Caesar is one of the more straightforward to understand at school. And with so much unrest in the world today it seems pertinent to us right now. What happens when you rid your state of its leader? And who exactly makes that call?
GILES: The man sitting behind us pipes up to his mate: “Reckon it will be the whole play?” Mate: “Hope not”. Odd that. Come and see a play, then hope for the curtain sooner rather than later.
DAN: At which point is it "later" and which point is it "sooner"? I guess sooner if it's crap and later if it's good? So within moments of the opening we see a sunglasses-framed Mark Anthony and he’s a drunk on booze and power and he cant handle it. Sunglasses? Really. At that point you could also be tricked into thinking this was going to be a horrific, badly conceived production of a play set in Italy by a company of Italian actors. But wait...
GILES: Suddenly the rest of the mob enter - Brutus, Cassius and Calpurnia - through three doors that will be used throughout and suddenly we feel like the badly under-dressed guests at the funeral of a king and they resent us for it. We are dressed for drizzle, they are dressed to death.
DAN: It’s dark, it's moody and it's full of intense symbolism. They combine really strong physical theatre with accurately delivered lines. The emotion punches you in the face and there isn’t a sound. You can hear the audience holding its breath and then breathing as one.
GILES: They look like they’ve all been kitted out by Dolce and Gabbana, and why the hell not? All wearing black, but it’s the nakedness and explosiveness of the Italian language grabs us. Cassius is enigmatic, Brutas, brooding and Calpurnia (who doesn’t normally get much of an outing) is constantly flitting in and out of her unbalanced mind and never receiving the attention she desires. Props are used sparingly, cleverly and symbolically and some of the physical work that is undertaken by Brutus leaves the audience in a state of shock.
DAN: There are dumb shows and at the point that Mark Anthony declares that Caesar has left all he possesses to his people, the heavens finally open. Down it comes and a chill of thanks goes out to “My Caesar”: what a guy, and what a company.
GILES: Everyone gets it in the back of course - that’s tragedy for you - but the means to that end are explored in that beautiful Italian manner which seems to say, “This play is Italian. WE are Italian. Fuck you.”DAN: They even use one of my favourite pieces of music: "Alina" by Arvo Pärt. Oh and the chair…
GILES: Oh yeah whoever gets it in the back ends up in the chair.
DAN: A Dolce & Gabana, Victorian, rock and roll, costumed, cautionary tale that silences the entire capacity Globe. Bravo.
GILES: Imagine our surprise when only six actors come on to take a bow at the end. What a great selection for this festival, another BIG TICK.
DAN: Wonder if it will rain for Titus.
GILES: Prophet of doom!
DAN: Nah I just like it… it's visceral.