Editors' pick

Free For All: Julius Caesar

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Editorial Review

Great Caesar’s ghost

It’s no toga party for the performers reprising their 2008 roles as Cassius, Brutus and the title character in the Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Free For All remount of “Julius Caesar.” The clash of ideals and ambitions ending in death, makes the experience more gut-wrenching than riotous, they say.

“Julius Caesar” opens Thursday at Sidney Harman Hall and runs through Sept. 4.

“When you get inside that skin, you’re not having fun,” says Tom Hammond, who plays Brutus, the idealist who justifies killing Caesar to save the Roman republic. “He loses everything because of the decision he makes, and then he loses his own life. So that is a dark place to go,” says the actor.

“Tragedies are always hard, because they’re obviously taking you on a pretty intense journey,” says Scott Parkinson who, as Cassius, pulls Brutus into the assassination plot. During the 2008 production, Parkinson says, people came to him after the show and said, “You were such a good villain!” Not what an actor wants to hear about trying to humanize his character. This time he’s digging deeper for “places where an audience might be able to connect with Cassius.”

“As Caesar, I don’t have to deal with the aftermath in the same way that these two characters do, and I delight in it,” jokes Dan Kremer. While Cassius and Brutus struggle with the repercussions of their actions, Kremer comes back as Caesar’s ghost and haunts them. “I come back to deal with them in very real ways,” says Kremer. “The spirit of Caesar never really leaves these two characters.”

-- Jane Horwitz (Aug. 17, 2011)