The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (TFANA)
The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (TFANA)

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar (TFANA) NYC Reviews and Tickets

(52 Reviews)
Members say
Great acting, Absorbing, Great staging, Ambitious, Intense

About the Show

Director Shana Cooper staged this production at Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 2017. Now, in her Off-Broadway debut, Cooper reimagines her earlier incarnation of Shakespeare's timeless tragedy for TFANA.

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Member Reviews (52)

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Dark, Accessible, Relevant, Great choreography, Ferocious

See it if I'm not a Shakespeare lover, but I enjoyed this intense production. Great movement & sound in the crowd & battle scenes. Easy to follow.

Don't see it if More sensational than emotionally moving. Dark w/ little humor. Poetic but detached perspective on characters with different flaws & agendas

Masculine, Lean, Uneven, Swift, Dynamic

See it if you’d like to see a “Julius Caesar” that is both a compelling staging of the havoc of battle & a critique of militarism.

Don't see it if you like “Julius Caesar” mostly for its thrilling oratory: here many major speeches pass without distinction. Read more

Intense, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing, Ambitious

See it if you like Shakespeare well-spoken, with little gimmickry except lots of testosterone, dynamic movement, & sharp visual images & casual dress

Don't see it if Julius Caesar & the history plays are not your favorites, don't like emphasis on ritualized battles or play not set in a specific time

Bar-raising, Exquisite, Great direction, Great acting, Masterful

See it if you want your high expectations met. Superlative cast. Gritty, red-blooded, heart-racing. If looking for the best WS around, don’t miss.

Don't see it if you‘re certain the definitive Julius Caesar requires togas & English accents, or you already know you don’t like this play. Read more

Riveting, Intense, Absorbing, Great acting

See it if like Shakespeare & history plays, can appreciate the words and acting despite strange staging, don't want the play directly related to today

Don't see it if set looks like a building under construction & some of the costumes in crowd scenes could detract - masks & dreads; lots of plastic buckets* Read more

Intense, Riveting, Great staging, Great acting, Absorbing

See it if A masterful production of Julius Caesar. Excellent staging and choreography brings this production to life.

Don't see it if Do you not see if you do not like Shakespeare or a play over 2 1/2 hours which requires intense listening.

Edgy, Entertaining, Ambitious, Intelligent

See it if Fan of Shakespeare, classical or modern. An intriguing approach...choreographed segments are especially intruiging.

Don't see it if Looking for a traditional production,

Intense, Quirky, Great writing, Absorbing

See it if it's a good production of a difficult play; some of the actors are excellent; the staging is creative w/o being radical.

Don't see it if you don't like shakespeare, or you don't like him in modern dress. Some of the acting is weak. The stylized fighting can wear thin.

Critic Reviews (16)

The New York Times
March 28th, 2019

"Shana Cooper’s revival — busy and butch — is so deep in conversation with itself and its dance battles that it nearly forgets to speak to us today...She seems more interested in moving bodies around rather than showing us what the minds inside those bodies might be thinking. Once in a while her work is electric...Mostly, the actors have enough comfort with the language to put across its essential meaning, but not the ease either to play with it or against it."
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New York Magazine / Vulture
March 29th, 2019

"The stage is full of visual ideas, the kind you can tell meant something specific to the people brainstorming but that haven’t made the jump...for all the energetic efforts of its actors, the production never gathers its power...This is the kind of well-intentioned aesthetic mishmash that ironically emerges not from too little thought but from a great deal of it that got caught up in itself...What keeps us engaged are a few individual actors punching through the hodgepodge."
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March 28th, 2019

"Cooper's urgent and worthy interpretation reminds one of just how much this play in particular gains from a fairly straightforward approach - straightforward, that is, except for its bruising physicality...The fact that Cooper manages to imply topical parallels without overwhelming the play's enduring power feels refreshing...It also allows us to focus on the performances of the excellent cast, and thus on the human elements underlying Shakespeare's epic sociopolitical dissection."
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Lighting & Sound America
March 29th, 2019

“You can see the outlines of a vision that seems all too relevant to today's America...The power of this Julius Caesar is only a sometime thing, thanks to an uneven cast whose members have apparently not yet settled on a unified acting style...Everyone is so jaw-grindingly intense as to be fatiguing...Overall, this is a 'Julius Caesar' that bemuses: It's good on the big ideas, much weaker on the details needed to support them. Ultimately, it telegraphs its intentions too overtly."
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New York Stage Review
March 28th, 2019

"Once Cooper’s actors start speaking the poetry and prose—if not trippingly on the tongue, certainly grippingly—things go quite well...Strife is the order of the sinister day and night, and Cooper pulls no punches...I had a reaction to it. I’d never experienced. It’s a marvelous play. That still stands. But is it a thoroughly well-written one? There I have to suggest it has drawbacks that never previously occurred to me...Never mind. This 'Caesar' is in sturdy hands for most of its course."
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April 3rd, 2019

"In the 1930's, the play was presented as an anti-Fascist rallying cry. In our own era, it has been presented with various American presidents as the stand-in for Caesar. While Shana Cooper's production for Theatre for a New Audience here called 'The Tragedy of Julius Caesar' is vigorous, lusty and lucid, it offers no political point of view. We never understand why the conspirators want to get rid of Caesar or what they want to replace him with instead."
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Theatre is Easy
March 28th, 2019

"A dystopian head scratcher, but the fault is not in its stars...The lack of clarity about setting and story only muddies the relationships between characters. The show features some stand-out performances...What’s most confounding about Cooper’s wacky vision of Rome is how predictable it is. In a world aesthetically unmoored from the columns and temples of ancient patriarchy, why so few women?...Cooper’s staging has one really riveting moment."
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Theater Pizzazz
March 31st, 2019

"Where this OSF/TFANA production succeeds in its modern setting is that there are no identifiable figures from the tabloids or the halls of government. Nonetheless, it still grapples with communicating the monumental, earth-shaking seriousness of the play in its period by having central characters run around in hoodies...The elements simply don’t come together to create the devastating political drama that is 'Julius Caesar' on the page."
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April 4th, 2019

"Rather than trying to connect the play's eponymous character with a contemporary political figure, she returns the audience's gaze to the play itself and the constellation of characters that make this tragedy such an intriguing work...The current version is a well-oiled machine and that the cast has their iambic pentameters down pat...The real dazzler is the ensemble, however. It can do more with its choreographic movements than the key principals delivering their eloquent speeches."
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Front Mezz Junkies
April 2nd, 2019

“Cooper has amassed a solid and tempered cast of professionals, piecing out the treachery with skill and a detailed nuance. They harness the stage with a tribal mob mentality, aggressively choreographed to high wonderment...It’s impossible not to feel a bit sick to your stomach...The choreography of war stamps and thrusts its way into the text...Cooper makes a grand statement with the battleground stomping, and the sweaty tremor heightens the ferocity of the play.”
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Theatre's Leiter Side
March 28th, 2019

"Swift-moving, clearly spoken, with the kind of directorial interpolations we've come to expect…Anxious to demonstrate the play's developments on women, she supplements Shakespeare's female characters by casting actresses as Cicero, the Soothsayer, and Artemidorous…Her thrust-stage set is a rather unattractive, ambiguous backdrop of tall, unadorned, white walls…Intense performances by Dirden as Brutus and Barbour as Antony."
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March 31st, 2019

“This is an exceptionally well realized interpretation in terms of production. The play collars and holds from the get-go, remains coherent, and puts one into the center of a cyclone rather than watching from its periphery. Point of view is clear and resonant, imagination omnipresent. Acting, alas, fares less well, yet overall doesn’t kill the experience...Cooper emphasizes unending cycles of violence rather than a single incident...War scenes...are visceral.”
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Stage Left
April 11th, 2019

"Plays the story straight with a modern feel, but without an allegory. The result is both deeply engaging and flat-out thrilling...By bringing the sheer physicality of battle and crowd scenes out of the wings and centerstage, the intensity of the political drama is elevated and sustained to powerful effect...Well-acted and thrillingly staged, this 'Caesar' is unclouded by tricks and focused on the story—well worth a visit for any theatregoer looking to brush up on their Shakespeare."
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March 31st, 2019

"The production’s finely tuned staging, set design, incisive acting by the principals and superb use of the ensemble ratchet the themes of political intrigue and civil strife to a much more nuanced and foreboding level...Cooper brilliantly employs the ensemble during the mob scenes and crowd scenes and then in the battle scenes in the last acts. The staging is riveting...A must-see for its daring risks that shake tradition, elucidate new concepts and provide exciting, vibrant theater."
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Off Off Online
April 1st, 2019

"The lack of specificity runs the risk of plunging viewers entirely into abstraction and diminishing the stakes. The production becomes increasingly stylized, which produces some stellar moments...But outside of these expertly staged scenes, the production doesn’t offer much insight into the play’s most fundamental questions...It avoids a fashionable interpretive gimmick or an overly literal gloss on contemporary events. But it becomes abstract and frenetic."
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Scene on Stage
April 3rd, 2019

“If your attention has wandered during the last third of 'Caesar,' you are not alone, but redemption is at hand. TFANA’s portrayal of the aftermath of the assassination of Caesar is a revelation...While the play is ninety-five percent in verse, it is short on poetic flourishes and imagery, making a naturalistic approach a good fit...Cooper’s modernist approach suits the acting styles – and vice versa...The precisely choreographed battle scenes are prolonged beyond necessity."
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