Phyllida Lloyd's all female production of Shakespeare's Julius Caesar opened at the Donmar Warehouse on November 30 and runs through February 9. The cast are Jade Anouka (Calpurnia/Metellus Cimber), Frances Barber (Julius Caesar), Ishia Bennison (Casca), Helen Cripps (Cinna the Poet), Clare Dunne (Portia/Octavius Caesar), Jen Joseph (Trebonius), Charlotte Josephine (Lucius), Jenny Jules (Cassius), Cush Jumbo (Mark Antony), Irene Ketikidi (Dardanius), Carrie Rock (Soothsayer), Carolina Valdés (Cinna/ Volumnius), Harriet Walter (Brutus) and Danielle Ward (Clitus).
Phyllida Lloyd directs an all-female company in Shakespeare's raw and eternal study of power. This production marks Phyllida Lloyd's return to theatre, and to the Donmar stage, after her film The Iron Lady.
For more information, visit www.donmarwarehouse.com.
Let's see what the critics had to say:
Michael Billington of the Guardian says: I don't think we should get carried away and start arguing that single-sex Shakespeare is the only way forward. But, like Mark Antony, Phyllida Lloyd is a "shrewd contriver"; and her all-female production of Julius Caesar is witty, liberating and inventive, and taps into the anti-authoritarian instinct that runs through the play.
Gary Hitchings of the London Evening Standard has this to say: Frances Barber is a viciously bullying Caesar, an arbitrary tyrant who in her beret and leather trenchcoat looks like someone you might find in a spy film loitering seedily in a railway arch. Harriet Walter's austere Brutus is a performance of riveting intricacy. Cush Jumbo's Mark Antony is impassioned, yet she also at times has an unusual brooding stillness. Jenny Jules brings a raw derangement to Cassius. There are ex-offenders in the cast, too, graduates of the excellent company Clean Break.
Alexandra Coghlan of the artsdesk writes: There's no ignoring gender in Julius Caesar. Whether it's Portia's "I grant I am a woman" speech, an enfeebled Caesar likened to a "sick girl", or Cassius raging against oppression – "our yoke and sufferance make us womanish" – the issue is written into the language and ideological fabric of the play. So all those who might be tempted to rage against the travesty of Phyllida Lloyd's all-female production for the Donmar should take their complaints directly to Shakespeare's door.
Paul Taylor of The Independent says: Impressively cocking a snook at the sceptics, Lloyd's fine cast – which includes Jenny Jules as a vehemently incisive Cassius and Cush Jumbo as a beautiful, dangerously charismatic Mark Antony – seem to be working on the principle of Ed Hall's all-male Propeller company: that the objective is to seize the essence of the character not to go in for any distracting impersonation of the opposite sex.
Maxwell Cooter of whatsonstage.com adds: The standout is Harriet Walter's Brutus. She captures all of the contrasting elements of the character, especially his/her inherent nobility. She speaks the verse beautifully too, making this a Brutus we can empathise with.