There is some time confusion in the Folger's "Julius Caesar" that is not caused -- but not helped, either -- by the production's being done in Elizabethan dress. Costumes aside, this "Caesar," directed by Louis W. Scheeder, seems to be set at the fall of Rome, rather than at its height, more than 500 years earlier. Caesar, as played by Earle Edgerton, is a pompous caricature of a mighty leader, and the noblest Roman of them all, Brutus, as snappishly interpreted by Ralph Cosham, is his match for arrogance and selfishness. If anything, Caesar is slightly more polite to Calpurnia than Brutus, in the parallel but usually contrasting scene, bothers being with his Portia. And Peter Webster's Mark Antony is such a blatantly unctuous opportunist that it's hard to imagine his ever having been trusted by Caesar, Brutus or anyone else, including a gullible crowd. With everyone in town either a villain or a fool, Rome would seem to be in its final decadence. And it's difficult to say what Shakespeare's play is about if there is no contrast between the ability to lead people despite questionable intentions and the failure to do so with the best of intentions. One can legitimately cite the crowd, with its combination of action and amorality, as the central factor, but it's hard to understand its emotions when we're not given the emotional climate to repeat the mistake -- as "Evita," for example, sweeps its audience along into adulation in spite of itself. To encourage that impulse, "Julius Caesar" has, at various periods, been done in contemporary dress. But doing it now in Elizabethan dress, with the rich ochre velvets and pot-bellied armor designed by Bary Allen Odom, only makes the characters look indolent and foppish by modern standards. Nearly everyone in the cast has employed the same style for displaying the weakness of character -- declamatory tones, failure to react to the behavior of others, aloof posturing. Two exceptions, Terry Hinz's supercilious humor in the tiny part of Casca and Floyd King's palpable fear in the small role of Cinna the Poet, give a tantalizing indication of what could have been done. JULIUS CAESAR -- At the Folger through December 6.