Friday, April 08, 2005

Julius Caesar

All over NYC you can see posters trumpeting Denzel Washington's appearance on the boards as Brutus in Julius Caesar. This advertising blitz and Denzel's fame should explain the big sales for his limited run in this Shakespearean production. Sadly my friends, Romans, and countrymen, if you lend me your ear I cannot report good news. The play comes with a certain hard-to-mess-with gusto (Shakespeare you know) but otherwise it is very much a mess. The modern trappings don't seem to be saying much. And shouldn't they if that's the direction a production goes with? The performances are pitched all over the place from classical Shakespearean delivery (Cassius) to film-like method underplaying (Brutus) to plain old over the top cluelessness (I shan't say). Sometimes you can't hear Denzel's voice. The voice itself is lovely and resonant of course as the entire nation is aware --but on stage... well, he just doesn't seem to have the training for it. It's hard to make out many of his lines and despite the quiet line deliveries in certain spots the rest of the soundcraft is ear splitting. The guns, special effects, war sounds are extremely loud. The gorgeous language Shakespeare is known for is often lost in the shuffle. Not a good trade.