Review: Julius Caesar

Jason Altshuler, Arts/Breaking News Writing Editor

With elements that will resonate with anyone and everyone, the high school’s Shakespeare play Julius Caesar sheds light on the politics and inner workings of human society.

The Drama Society’s take on William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, directed by Mary Mastandrea, places the classic narrative within an election season in modern day America.  The setting, though confusing at times, served to emphasize the contemporary relevance of the play, 400 years after its composition.

At the beginning of the play, Julius Caesar, played by junior Hewitt Langton, is a popular candidate, whose overwhelming support is feared by his fellow politicians. Cassius, portrayed by sophomore Rebecca Perez, a close friend of Attorney General Brutus (played by junior Sarah Groustra), brings together a group of Senators to plot the assassination of Caesar.  Brutus is chosen to be the new candidate for Office.

From this point, the drama unfolds at a brisk pace: Antonia, another former colleague of Caesar, rebels against Brutus, dividing the nation between the two potential leaders.

Although flaws in the modern setting appear at times (such as the reworking of a poet as a hip hop artist), the play is elevated by the sheer talent of the actors.

The students who play the conniving senators (juniors Nick Sturman, Hunter Amory and Nathaniel Liberman and senior Haley Barnes) who oppose Caesar truly make you believe that they are self-assured conspirators intent on murder. Groustra, who plays Brutus, shows stunning character development that is as believable as it is entertaining, starting as a thoughtful public servant and becoming a paranoid and angry corrupt politician.

Even moments that most audience members are aware of beforehand—such as Caesar’s assassination—are packed with emotion and evoke chills.  

The issues that are discussed in the production are as relevant today as they were when Shakespeare wrote them—conspiracy, corruption, crime, marriage, betrayal, cocky and shortsighted political leaders and more—making Julius Caesar both intriguing and extremely interesting.

Finally, the elements of the current election that were interspersed throughout the play added both to the humor and relatableness of the narrative (such as a real clip of moderator Chris Wallace after the Second Presidential Debate being played after the debate in the story).

Any Shakespeare fans or political activists would be well advised to catch a showing before it closes.

The high school’s production of Julius Caesar will be shown again on Thursday, Nov. 3, Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday Nov. 5 at 7:30 p.m.  The approximate running time is 1:40 with a 10 minute intermission.