Parul Rana

Direction : Jeff Goldberg
Cast : Jeff Goldberg, Afshan Khan, Mahathi Ramesh, Khamarushk Kunder, Akshat Mishra, Suraj Makhijani, Nipun, Divesh Mirchandani, Sara Merchant, Nicky Pickyy and others


The timeless classic JULIUS CAESAR by William Shakespeare, set in 44 BC Rome, starts by declaring Caesar's victory and claiming, "The stakes for Rome and the world could not be higher, everything is about to change and nothing will ever be the same again." The civil war is over, Pompey is dead, and the Senate is divided. Now, to stop Caesar from gaining too much power, Brutus and the conspirators assassinate him on the Ides of March. Post which Mark Antony drives the conspirators out of Rome and fights them in a battle.

Director Jeff Goldberg himself plays the part of Julius Caesar, taking the audience deep inside the politics of the Roman empire with his performance. Mahathi Ramesh and Akshat Mishra play Cassius (the character given a gender switch) and Brutus respectively and both manage to deliver decent performances. Khamarushk Kunder plays Mark Antony and stands out in one of the most intriguing scenes in the play where Antony delivers a stirring speech informing the citizens about Caesar's death and the will he has left behind for his fellow countrymen.

What follows after Julius's assassination is the furious mob taking to the streets, to kill every conspirator they can find.

At the end of the play, one realizes it is the common man who has suffered the most in this politics of achieving power. This classic play still feels relevant, given the political scenario of today's times. The mob situation is similar to citizens today, who want to believe primarily in whatever is being said by the people in the position of power without having to give a thought if they are making an informed decision or just being swayed by whatever information they are being fed.

Persuasion is at the centre of the play. Every character is persuading the other for their own personal motives. Cassius tries her best to convince and persuade every man she meets to bring them to her side. Portia, Brutus's wife, played by Afshan Khan, tries her best to stop Brutus from giving in and serves as his inner conscience. Brutus who initially faces inner turmoil eventually chooses to give in leading to one of the pivotal scenes of the play.

Brutus thinks he can save the citizens from tyranny by executing Caesar's assassin but instead, it leads to a civil war. In the end, whether Brutus gets carried away by the conspirators in search of power and ambition or did he really want to save Rome from tyranny is a question left to your own imagination and perception of the play. Other themes touched upon in the play are ethics vs power, betrayal, honour, idealism, ambition, and conflict.

The period set designe works very well for the play. The changes done to set on stage throughout the act are minimal, which helps one stay focused on the characters on stage and their actions. The make-up and costumes as well, provide a Roman look to the actors and have been kept truthful to the time and era in which the play is set.

The play has been successful in creating an ancient Roman era with an apt soundscape, costumes and lighting. The fact that the play is being presented at the Royal Opera House- a UNESCO-certified heritage location that has a history of its and a European architecture adds to the ambiance and offers additional submergence into the play.

*Parul Rana is a theatre enthusiast and movie buff.

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