‘Oh Julius Caesar, thou art mighty yet’
The story of Julius Caesar would have been well-known to Shakespeare and, in many ways, it would have been a natural subject to appeal to him after the completion of most of his major English history plays. It has been consistently popular throughout the centuries combining, as it does, dramatic action with keen perception of character.
Some have suggested that the play really ought to have been called ‘The Tragedy of Marcus Brutus’ and it is true that Brutus has many of the characteristics of the tragic hero. His ‘nobility’ is everywhere in evidence but, as John Palmer points out, he also has ‘precisely the qualities which in every age have rendered the conscientious liberal ineffectual in public life’. He is a man of courage, dignity and humanity but he makes every mistake that it is possible to make. His fatal misjudgements of character are followed by errors in action and his final tragedy comprises not only the death of himself and his wife, but also the destruction of the republican principles for which he has fought.
By contrast Cassius is presented as acute, intelligent and effective. A realist whose more admirable qualities are developed towards the end of the play while Antony changes from the sensual libertine to the ‘shrewd contriver’ and unscrupulous opportunist.
Throughout all the action the presence or spirit of Caesar makes itself felt. It is this very spirit that the conspirators hope to destroy but, in fact, it is stronger after the murder than before it. Shakespeare’s audience would have been fully aware of the legendary greatness of Caesar. They would also have been keenly alive to the potential horrors of a disorganised change of power, as the ageing Queen Elizabeth was already nearing death without having established any heir to succeed her to the throne. In many ways Caesar is portrayed as a political idea rather than a man. The assassination, which attempts to destroy his spirit in fact elevates it and makes it much more powerful. Caesar, therefore, becomes the greatest force in the play which quite rightly bears his name.
CALPURNIA, HIS WIFE
PORTIA, HIS WIFE
The ruling Triumvirate after Caesar's death
The conspirators against Caesar
Tribunes of the people
LUCIUS, SERVANT TO BRUTUS
PINDARUS, BONDMAN TO CASSIUS
SERVANT TO CAESER
SERVANT TO ANTONY
SERVANT TO OCTAVIUS
Officers and Soldiers in the armies of Brutus and Cassius
Plebeians, Officers, Soldiers, Attendants
Katherine Williams and members of the company
Terry Dick and team
Simon Ellis ABIPP AMPA
Backstage and Technical Team
Front of House & Sales
Trish James and team