Review: Julius Caesar, Alhambra Theatre, Bradford

Paterson Joseph starring in the RSC's production of Julius Caesar at Bradford Alhambra.
Paterson Joseph starring in the RSC's production of Julius Caesar at Bradford Alhambra.

The Royal Shakespeare Company’s latest production of one of the Bard’s most loved tragedies moves the action to the setting of a modern African state uprising.

It’s a wonderful move by RSC artistic director designate Gregory Doran and the narrative of ancient Rome fits easily into its new surroundings.

Let’s face it the RSC know what they’re doing and this is the sort of high quality production you’d expect.

From the band sat on stage playing traditional African music as the audience filtered in to the grandiose set design coming out from the stage there was a sense that we were part of the uprising being played out in front of us.

Paterson Joseph takes the role of Brutus with a superiority befitting the man who would replace Caesar - he is both captivating and despicable.

While his fellow conspirator Cassisus is given a blend of manic, grovelling notoriety by Cyril Nri.

Jeffery Kissoon captures Caesar’s paranoia, hunger for power and growing weaknesses fantastically.

But, despite the updated setting, it is Ray Fearon’s Mark Antony that presents the starkest departure from traditional Shakespeare.

Fearon gives him an undertone of malevolence. He is a man broken by the murder of Caesar but that drives him towards power.

As in any uprising there will always be someone to fill the power vacuum and here it is Mark Antony who steps up and as the play ends the mood is one that asks the audience will Antony become another tyrant?

A fantastic production and a great coup for the Alhambra. It runs until Saturday September 29 before touring nationally.