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Julius Caesar (The Public Theater)

From 38 critic and 170 member reviews
Members say: Relevant, Great acting, Ambitious, Clever, Entertaining

About the show

The Public Theater’s artistic director, Oskar Eustis, helms the Bard's play of politics and power, last seen at the Delacorte 17 years ago. Part of Shakespeare in the Park's free summer season. More…

Rome’s leader, Julius Caesar, given a Trumpian makeover, is a force unlike any the city has seen. Magnetic, populist, irreverent, he seems bent on absolute power. A small band of patriots, devoted to the country’s democratic traditions, must decide how to oppose him. Shakespeare’s political masterpiece has never felt more contemporary.

Stage Buddy

“Eustis’ interpretation of the play might just be the most effective Shakespearean production this decade as it links past and future forcing us to engage with ideas that have never hit closer to home. This is never more effective than when we learn that we have been sitting next to actors playing the Roman mob…By having the loudest voices erupt from the audience’s perspective, Eustis is giving power back to the public, reclaiming the theatre as the ultimate forum.” Full Review

The Washington Post

"Without a doubt worth your time—and not because the allusions to contemporary politics, though compelling, are particularly seditious, or groundbreaking...What feels first-rate here is not so much these editorial-cartoon interludes as the potent handling of the drama’s tragic dimension...The outstanding Stoll and Thompson contribute mightily to the sense of this as one of the best-spoken and liveliest 'Julius Caesars' in recent memory...Best of all is Marvel who lives up to her surname." Full Review


“Oskar Eustis has slimmed down and sharpened Shakespeare's ‘Julius Caesar’ to make a stinging political point: Democracy is fragile and Donald Trump is not the worst thing that can happen to America...This ‘Caesar’ is mind-crushingly good, in no small part because it speaks precisely to our times…It is, perhaps, too on-the-nose; but it is not — as conservative and alt-right media outlets have suggested — a show that glorifies the assassination of the President." Full Review


“Shaved down to a scintillating two hours, this is a mighty gripping production…The performances are uniformly excellent. Stoll does a moving job with Brutus, the cerebral Hamlet of the piece…John Douglas Thompson is his opposite, the hotheaded Cassius…And Elizabeth Marvel lives up to her name as Marc Antony, a syrupy Southern accent putting just the right honey into Antony’s stinging words…It all adds up to the immediacy, the in-your-face intensity of brilliant theater." Full Review


"Shakespeare never shied away from thinly veiled allusions to his contemporaries...In that sense, Eustis' heavy-handed approach is spiritually a lot closer to the original than any toga and sandals staging...Eustis makes his production feel exhilarating, vital, and just a bit dangerous...The lead players also make these mythic historical figures feel present and tangible...Of course, we must suspend our disbelief in important ways to fully embrace Caesar as a cautionary tale for our time." Full Review

Village Voice

“Eustis doesn’t sand down the subtleties and ironies of the text to score cheap points…The play is there, acted by a strong ensemble. Stoll renders Brutus faithfully as an unshowy, principled bureaucrat, and Thompson has crafted the most noble and righteous Cassius I’ve seen. Sure, Cheeto Caesar is a gimmick born of anger and disgust, but it’s a gimmick with teeth — and one we need in order to probe the ever-widening fault lines between showmanship and ethical statecraft." Full Review


“Regardless of the politics involved, here's the big question: Is it entertaining? The answer: a most unequivocal yes...The performances are exceptionally strong. John Douglas Thompson is a forcefully animated Cassius. Gregg Henry does a mean Trump imitation as the nakedly ambitious Caesar - quite literally. In a twist of casting, Marc Antony is played by the always marvelous Elizabeth Marvel with a decidedly Southern twang. And Corey Stoll's brooding Brutus is most excellent." Full Review

Frequent Business Traveler

"The colorblind casting that made 'Hamilton' so incredible is amplified by gender-blind casting as well: who knew Marc Antony (played so brilliantly by Elizabeth Marvel) had a Southern drawl? The play gets progressively more immersive and more intense as it goes on...As Roman protesters appear loudly voicing their opinions, many audience members seemingly join the chorus of voices. It made the mere act of sitting in my seat feel dangerous and possibly even subversive." Full Review

The New York Times

"The first half...is great, nasty fun, even if it’s preaching to the choir. To the extent there is a problem with the Trumpification of 'Julius Caesar'...it arises in the second half...It is then that we are faced with the ways that Trump and Caesar never properly scanned, and an aftermath in which that confusion breeds more confusion...To be fair, this is a problem built into the play...The fault is not in the stars, as good a group as the Public has assembled in the park in years." Full Review

Front Mezz Junkies

"I’m not sure I find director Oskar Eustis’s stylistic choices all that provocative, just obvious...Marvel is exactly that, a marvel with a Southern senator’s drawl with an astounding ability to whip a crowd into a frenzy using every tactic available in her magnificent funeral oration...The look and feel create a sense of dread especially with the parallels being so closely aligned." Full Review

Time Out New York

"The play is not an endorsement of violence; it’s a cautionary tale about its risks...Although the cast delivers Shakespeare’s verse with remarkable lucidity, the characters are secondary; the focus of this production is on political, not personal, tragedy, and it offers a dark vision of the rise of authoritarianism. Yes, the repeated allusions to Trump elicit giggles of recognition at first. But when the smoke clears two hours later, nobody is laughing." Full Review

Theater Life

"The updating and non-traditional acting assignments largely work out...My only quarrel with this black-and-white concept is it robs the play of Shakespeare’s rich, grey-hued ambiguities...Despite this shortcoming, Eustis has created a stirring and gripping 'Caesar' which barrels along at a rapid two hours with no intermission...This is probably the most political transposition of 'JC' from ancient Rome to a contemporary setting to play on or Off-Broadway." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"An intense, thought-provoking production...A number of terrific performances. Most notably John Douglas Thompson...'Julius Caesar' can be difficult to sit through. Though laden with memorable, oft-quoted lines, it lacks the moments of levity so prominent in Shakespeare’s other tragedies, and the heaviness of the political message can drag...But this version moves quickly enough and feels very thorough, making it a solid, well-produced show that should please first-timers." Full Review

Entertainment Weekly

"This staging is far less interested in exploring the psychology of Caesar (or Trump) than it is in examining the inner workings of democracy...Bringing these complicated themes to the public for free is a worthwhile cause...Although the Public’s version isn’t perfect, it’s a worthy attempt to bring Shakespeare’s most deeply democratic work into the present, with a lively, contemplative production." Full Review


"In most Shakespeare productions in the park, mob scenes have to be taken on faith, with the same handful of actors scurrying about trying to look like legions. But this surging Roman mob has real numbers, and its fickle allegiances to one demagogic political figure after another makes it genuinely frightening...The Trump analogy doesn’t hold up once Caesar is assassinated...The instigators of violence are exceptionally well cast and forcefully played." Full Review

The Huffington Post

"The immediate result is that these olden characters from ancient Rome seem to be of our time, speaking directly to us...Eustis heightens the effect by building the production on contemporary performances from strong stage performers...The current Trumpian version is attention getting, certainly, and enhances the drama. The real-to-life links go astray, methinks, once the title character meets his fate on the Ides of March and cedes the spotlight for most of the rest of the evening." Full Review

DC Metro Theater Arts

"A blunt and vital revival that clearly speaks to our own times...These fine actors are capable of rendering the text clearly in American accents, and they’ve been directed to perform truthfully in a contemporary manner...I think some of the topical references were unsubtle; I think I’d have preferred to let the play speak for itself in terms of its relevance to the Trump Administration. But it’s the sort of experiment for which The Public is famous." Full Review

New York Theatre Review

“The performers, and this cast is overwhelming in the sheer volume and consistency of high talent, break past the barriers of forced topicality…Eustis’ topical read might be ill-conceived, but in practice it never sinks into shtick…Marvel’s Antony is revelatory...Cassius (Thompson) and Brutus (Stoll) are performed with profound earnestness. However, both an intense editing of the script compounded by the contemporary read go to undermine the emotional foundation of each character’s journey." Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

“Making Caesar a buffoon—a doppelganger for the president who, in all likelihood, is loathed by virtually everyone in attendance at the Delacorte—changes the play's stakes and muddies its intent...This is too bad because, much of the time, this 'Julius Caesar' is clearly, powerfully staged, facilitated by one of the best casts to appear in the Delacorte in some time—and that's saying something…The entire cast scores in roles large and small...This ‘Julius Caesar’ has plenty to offer.” Full Review

Talkin' Broadway

"Eustis abandons any pretense of subtlety in a bread-and-circuses approach...Once the Trump lampoon is abandoned, the tone becomes more serious. Corey Stoll is the most centered of the performers...The rest of the large cast is quite strong...It is hard to say how 'Julius Caesar' would have fared without the silliness in the first half of the production, but the cautionary tale against the possibility of anarchy comes through loud and clear." Full Review


"Although the metaphor doesn't pan out completely, it surely makes for one wild and wooly evening of theater...The acting is mostly strong...Whether or not you give a thumbs up—or down to Mr. Eustis on making Trump a stand-in for Caesar, you've got to hand it to him for mounting a 'Julius Caesar' that is larger-than-life and robust. Politically correct or not, his 'Julius Caesar' is sure to linger in people's memories long after its final performance in Central Park." Full Review


"Eustis’ imposing Donald Trump into the proceedings ultimately turns out to be a sour mistake–but not necessarily for the reasons that infuriated Delta and Bank of America...Seeing 'Juius Caesar' under any circumstances is always a worthy way to spend one’s time...It’s a marvelous play...So are they all honorable actors...Marvel is often accomplished...Corey Stoll as Brutus and John Douglas Thompson are especially potent in the post-assassination scene." Full Review


"Shakespeare scored contemporary political points by cloaking them in historical allegories. Eustis demands no such imaginative leap...The production is meant to provoke...A very good production whose singular drawback is that it makes no sense...Even given its rough satirical edge, the pleasures and the faults of this production lie not in the stars but in ourselves: It’s a staging for this age, if not the ages." Full Review


"Eustis isn’t going for subtlety...Populated with actors from no fewer than three of TV’s politically styled dramas, this 'Caesar' builds on anti-Trump asides forced into new children’s musicals this season and addressed in full-scale works like 'Building the Wall'...It’s shocking to see a band of conspirators in modern dress take turns plunging a dagger into the body of a leader so clearly modeled on America’s own...Henry's Caesar blusters and leers with every line...It’s quite a performance." Full Review


"The parallels between the ambitious Roman emperor and our current commander-in-chief are evident in the text. Still, this modern concept, obvious as it is, brings a much-needed immediacy (and a little comedy) to the Bard’s often dreary history play...There’s plenty to praise in Eustis’ casting of the show’s primary roles...Not even Stoll and Thompson can make the play’s final section remotely interesting...You’ll be tired of lending your ears to petty philosophizing long before the final bow." Full Review

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if If you are okay with Julius Caesar being compared to America's political system. But it also sticks to the story of Julius Caesar.

Don't see it if If you are not okay with the play being compared to our political system.

Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Profound, Entertaining

See it if You need a refreshing interpretation! It's flawless with its timely references to modern world

Don't see it if You are politically sensitive

Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Great writing

See it if A terrific new take on a classic. Having Antony played by Elizabeth Marvel was a genius stroke.

Don't see it if Those who complain about this show are missing the point. Its message is staunchly anti-violence. If you're stupid, you won't get it.

Also I have a lot to say about this show. First of all, it is definitely ab... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Edgy

See it if You have a sense of humor-you are outraged by Trump, but you see the comedy in his stupidity and the danger in his "I am the best/perfect .

Don't see it if You think Julius Caesar should not be screwed with....not edited, not any parallels to our world.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Masterful

See it if you are interested in seeing how Shakespeare's plays have a direct relevance to the contemporary moment.

Don't see it if you're a big Trump not much given to seeing your man sent up on stage.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Intelligent

See it if you like Shakespeare; Are willing to think a little bit

Don't see it if you aren't comfortable with Shakespearean English.

Also I know this one was controversial, and I'm incredibly glad I got to se... Read more Read less

Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Resonant, Great staging

See it if You enjoy Shakespeare and Central Park. Appreciate a timely production of a classic story that is an important cautionary for all of us.

Don't see it if You can't appreciate the ending. All the crazy killing is for nothing. You love Trump.

Absorbing, Clever, Edgy, Intelligent, Resonant

See it if You like being pulled into the show. I don't want to spoil it, but this boasts one of the best "Friends, Romans, Countrymen" scenes ever.

Don't see it if You won't actually listen to the words. While the Public does its typical good job of clarity, some is obfuscated in the contemporizing.

Also Also, for what it's worth, the much touted "Trump impressions" in this... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Masterful, Must see, Relevant, Great staging

See it if You want to see Shakespeare, modern and relevant. No one does it like The Public! It's so engrossing, it almost makes me angry. Must see!

Don't see it if Don't see it if you're awful. Or, do see it, learn something, and become less awful.

Absorbing, Great acting, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if You want a new interpretation of a classic story, updated for a modern audience.

Don't see it if You are offended by the source material and how it might relate to the current political climate.

Also Great modern adaptation that seamlessly merges old with new without se... Read more Read less

Clever, Intelligent, Entertaining

See it if you want to see Julius Caesar presented in a smart, relatable way

Don't see it if If you're a Trump supporter

Also I was there the Friday night when the protests took place. It was love... Read more Read less

Clever, Edgy, Intense, Must see, Politicial

See it if you are interested in current political news and, of course, if you enjoy seeing live theater in the beautiful surroundings of The Delacorte

Don't see it if you don't like plays with violence...

Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great writing, Great staging, Mirror like discomforting

See it if You appreciate Shakespeare in the Park as a theatre venue and are ok w/ obvious references to trump & current affairs

Don't see it if you're a traditionalist that can't appreciate how the text supports current events or hate non-traditional casting

Also Yes, it's a little buffoonish at the start, but that only contributes ... Read more Read less

Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Profound, Relevant

See it if you want to see an interesting take on Julius Caesar

Don't see it if you don't like free speech and a trump depiction upsets you.

Ambitious, Intelligent, Masterful, Relevant, Great staging

See it if You usually have a hard time with Shakespeare, the contemporary setting of this helps to make it more clear and understandable-and relevant!

Don't see it if If you hate Shakespeare. As good as this is, it's still two plus hours of a play you'll probably hate, wondering what they're talking about.

Absorbing, Ambitious, Edgy, Thought-provoking, Great staging

See it if You want to see a quick moving, well designed version that's especially creative in the way it handles the mob scenes, making it more immers

Don't see it if You worship donald trump and/or don't realize shakespeare meant his plays to have contemporary relevance.

Clever, Refreshing, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you love seeing a Shakespeare that accessible. And if you love seeing the past reflected in the present.

Don't see it if you dislike any Shakespeare that is updated or cast in a novel way.

Intense, Must see, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you want to see what all the fuss is about.

Don't see it if you can't handle anything political.

Also Yes, this is the Trumpian Caesar, but many hate Shakespeare's "old-fas... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Uncomfortable

See it if You want to see a modern and relevant take on Julius Caesar that challenges your political opinions

Don't see it if If are overwhelmed by the political climate and don't want it to bleed into your theater experience

Absorbing, Great acting, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Great staging

See it if You enjoy Shakespeare, you don't mind modern touches on classics, you like shows that make you think

Don't see it if You don't like Shakespeare

Absorbing, Clever, Edgy

See it if You are openminded about seeing classic Shakespeare set in modern times.

Don't see it if You are unable to contextualize.

Funny, Ambitious, Clever, Edgy, Intense

See it if -Like political humor, want to see some amazing acting, are pissed about our current political situation

Don't see it if -You support Trump, don't like Shakespeare,don't support the Public Theater,offended by murder, like classic adaptions


See it if You don't mind contemporary staging of a play set in Ancient Rome. You enjoy Shakespeare in the Park at the Delacorte Theater.

Don't see it if Hot or wet conditions bother you: we saw someone faint from the heat and the show was stopped! Extra drama at no additional charge!

Absorbing, Ambitious, Relevant, Great staging

See it if you love seeing Shakespeare redone in modern settings. if you're into gender and race blind casting. if you like engaging ensemble work.

Don't see it if you're not into art being politically charged and relevant.

Clever, Edgy, Great acting, Intense, Relevant

See it if You love the Bard and hate Trump. Modern D.C. setting and allusions to current events make it even more engrossing.

Don't see it if You can't handle blood, violence, loud crowds, or brief full frontal male nudity.

Cast & Creatives (34)