Already closed

Julius Caesar (The Public Theater)

Members say: Relevant, Great acting, Ambitious, Clever, Great staging
75
Critics
65
38 reviews
Members
78
165 reviews
 

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.

... Read 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.

 

Cast & Creatives (34)


Reviews (203)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
65
Avg Score

45
Newsday

"Eustis’ modern-dress staging at Shakespeare in the Park draws parallels, in broad strokes with thick Sharpies and neon-colored highlighters...Turning Caesar, an efficient leader, into a comic caricature makes little sense. It may be fun to watch but it also undermines the show’s powerful ambiguity...Busy and loud, the show moves at a fast clip...Some members of the cast stand out, though none more than the charismatic Elizabeth Marvel." Full Review

85
Theatermania

"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

75
Variety

"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

80
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

35
The Hollywood Reporter

"We get the idea immediately, and since it doesn’t go anywhere particularly interesting after that we just as quickly lose interest. Its would-be provocative central conceit notwithstanding, this is a bland, unevenly acted production of Shakespeare’s play whose main virtues are its fast pace and vigorous energy...Further illustrating the production’s lack of subtlety is David Rockwell’s ugly-as-sin set design...A production whose aesthetic gears are grinding too noisily and predictably." Full Review

85
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

80
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

75
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

80
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

70
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

40
Front Row Center

“A ho-hum production that has so many wink-wink elements stuffed into it that it becomes unbalanced...Stoll handles the role of Brutus with an easy grace that is deceptive. He makes it look easy…The rest of the cast does not fare so well. John Douglas Thompson‘s delivery is stiff...Eustis has stuffed this production with crowds and chaos and clamber to within an inch of its life. It is packed so full that the skeleton of the story is overshadowed.” Full Review

55
Theatre's Leiter Side

“There's no denying the present version's entertainment value for liberal audiences. It doesn't matter if makes sense so long as it provides a valve for letting off political steam in these troubled times…For all the seriousness of what's depicted, the Caesar scenes play more like political comedy…than solemn historical drama about the abuse of power and the collapse of democracy…Caesar…dies midway through; once he's gone, the production's air, shall we say, begins to leak.” Full Review

45
AM New York

"This heavy-handed, uncomfortable and unnecessary stroke of provocation on the part of Eustis turns what might have otherwise been a decent production into a jumbled mess...Notwithstanding, the production contains great performances from Stoll and Thompson...Any worthwhile production of 'Julius Caesar' will prompt an audience to ponder its own political realities...Eustis should have trusted that his audience could draw its own parallels." Full Review

45
The Clyde Fitch Report

"Yes, the Trump look gets the laugh that Eustis is after...Granted, these notions are effectively amusing. But almost from beginning to end they represent a surprising misreading of the work...Julius Caesar was a renowned warrior, whereas we know Trump never served a day in the armed forces...Eustis’ casting also raises some questions...While so much of this whole undertaking is off-kilter, it is important to mention that there are well-done segments." Full Review

20
Times Square Chronicles

"I was not prepared for the deconstruction of a play that made me wonder if I even knew this play at all...This production, Oskar Eustis and the Public Theater have gone too far...The show is so muddled and I blame this on Mr. Eustis as these are all winning and competent actors...Countless audience goers were left in shock, as was I. Violence begets violence and this was just in poor taste." Full Review

65
Deadline

"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

80
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

25
The Wrap

"It’s the Bard and not a Trumpified Caesar who gets assassinated in this tasteless and ill-conceived production—which has the presumably unintended effect of making Trump into a powerfully sympathetic character before it ultimately sputters into narrative incoherence...Eustis’ 'Julius Caesar' buckles under the weight of its cleverness and dissolves into confusion (and some tedium) just when it should be gathering momentum." Full Review

70
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

60
CitiTour

"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

65
WNBC

"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

20
The Wall Street Journal

“In this production, the real tyrant is not Caesar, but its director, Oskar Eustis. He more clearly comes across as ambitious, inconsistent, with little regard for limits, manipulating his audience by playing to popular taste...But what about Shakespeare?…He was exploring the evolving tensions between populism and patrician heritage...Such themes don’t fit easily with Eustis’ grade-school notions. But they are far more intriguing than the tyrannical vision he crudely enforces in their place.” Full Review

85
NY1

“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

95
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

75
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

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
78
Avg Score

71
Ambitious, Disappointing, Slow

See it if would enjoy an updated to the times version of Julius Caesar

Don't see it if want to see something lighthearted or are trying to escape the every day realities of todays political issues.

75
Absorbing, Ambitious, Intense, Disappointing, Problematic

See it if You want to see the hottest ticket in New York, and you watch the news each day with growing dread.

Don't see it if If you're a die-hard partisan of either side of the aisle.

Also This Caesar is much more nuanced than the coverage it received, but co... Read more Read less

75
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant

See it if you enjoy fresh takes on classic works; you want to think critically about our current world and how politics never seem to change

Don't see it if you do not want to mix politics and performance; you need a production that feels constantly active

69
Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Relevant, Great staging

See it if You enjoy well made Shakespeare even if you don't like the subject matter. I saw this before all the hype blew it out of proportion.

Don't see it if This is not my favorite Shakespeare play. It just isn't, and no matter how good the production was, I'm just never going to love this play.

65
Ambitious, Epic, Relevant, Indulgent, Fascinating

See it if you want to see an updated take on Caesar taking current headlines as its basis.Some terrific cast members who make the darker elements work

Don't see it if you don't want to see Caesar as Trump, or to watch the play feel like an extended SNL skit. Never boring and ambitious take but odd to watch

Also a big gamble on this very ambitious take with Caesar as Trump and whil... Read more Read less

77
Absorbing, Great acting, Intense, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you have any interest in current events, certainly, or, better yet, you aren't much of a Shakespeare person but are open to seeing it fresh.

Don't see it if you can't see the forest for the trees or don't understand the concept of a parable. You want to stay as far from politics as possible.

68
Ambitious, Thought-provoking, Relevant, Entertaining

See it if you like like modernized versions of Shakespeare.

Don't see it if you don't like Trump being lampooned.

97
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

90
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

89
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.

92
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.

78
Absorbing, Exquisite, Must see, Profound, Great staging

See it if you can obtain a ticket at this late date. A rare treat from the company that reinvented Shakespeare, this production comes close to reality

Don't see it if you are a die-heart Republican or swear that Trump will save the country.

70
Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Intelligent, Slow

See it if you like Shakespeare that is contextualized in modern day to provide contemporary relevance. Committed performances by great cast.

Don't see it if Shakespeare plays are too slow for you, you're a Trump supporter who inaccurately believes this production is glorifying assassination

72
Ambitious, Relevant, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if you want to see a modern take on the classic. It's unreal how accurate it is to current events without changing language.

Don't see it if you don't like interactive theater. Cast members act from the audience often and you might sometimes feel surrounded.

90
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...

79
Absorbing, Ambitious, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you generally enjoy SITP and, well-acted and well-spoken lively updated interpretations of classics.

Don't see it if you don't like modernized versions of Shakespeare plays, or Shakespeare in the Park.

85
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.

70
Ambitious, Great acting

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

Don't see it if you are not down with the Shakespeare in the Park experience.

Also Overall, I liked this a lot more than I thought I would. The Trump con... Read more Read less

59
Thought-provoking, Disappointing

See it if you're interested in the whole debate about artistic expression and censorship.

Don't see it if you'd be offended at the depiction of Trump being killed.

Also While I don't think this really worked (playing in NYC, Trump is seen ... Read more Read less

75
Clever, Relevant, Great writing, Disappointing

See it if you enjoy making Shakespeare exceptionally relevant to today. Also if you like clever send-ups of Trump & Melania.

Don't see it if you like your Shakespeare to be thoroughly explored. And all the actors to understand what they are saying and not just playing "glib".

Also I thought that the concept was exceptionally clever, but I felt like t... Read more Read less

78
Ambitious, Edgy, Intelligent, Refreshing, Great staging

See it if you want to see an easier to digest version of a classic Shakespeare play. This production was bold and relevant for today's audience.

Don't see it if you don't want to see a different Caesar reflected from modern political influences. Especially if you don't want to be reminded of Trump.

96
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.

62
This was ruined for me by a shrill, southern accented female marc antony

See it if Gregg Henry and Nikki James were wonderful. You want to see more of Trump. Cell phones and Shakespeare are not an oxymoron to you.

Don't see it if You dont like modernized, smirky, gender blind casting. You want an intermission in 2 1/4 hours. Boring sets, noninformative costumes.

67
Funny, Uneven, Political

See it if you like modern re-stagings, great use of extras.

Don't see it if you can't get over Trump-as-Caesar. The metaphor didn't really work for me.

100
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.