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Julius Caesar (The Public Theater)
Upper W Side
78

Julius Caesar (The Public Theater) NYC Reviews and Tickets

78%
(171 Reviews)
Positive
83%
Mixed
15%
Negative
2%
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.

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Member Reviews (171)

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89
Ambitious, Great staging, Intelligent, Masterful, Relevant

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.

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

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.

Critic Reviews (38)

June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 13th, 2017

“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.”
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 16th, 2017

"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."
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 13th, 2017

“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."
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 13th, 2017

“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.”
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 13th, 2017

"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."
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 13th, 2017

“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.”
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June 13th, 2017

“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.”
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June 17th, 2017

"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."
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June 15th, 2017

"The hyper-contemporary Trumpian veneer that’s been slathered over this production...does end up amplifying fleeting moments of close connection to our present day, but it does so at the expense of the play’s larger message...Beneath the cheap glow of the production’s heavy-handed Trump paint job is a superb cast...The nuance of the source material is too often sacrificed in the name of lightweight satire, cheapening the first half and muddying the message of the second. "
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C
June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 12th, 2017

“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.”
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 13th, 2017

"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."
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 14th, 2017

“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."
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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T
June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 12th, 2017

"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."
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June 16th, 2017

"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."
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W
June 13th, 2017

“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."
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T
June 12th, 2017

"Not everyone is happy with what can only be termed a gimmick...But for those who appreciate Shakespeare and good drama, the production should be equally shoddy. The main problem is that all the buffoonery takes the focus off the play’s true protagonist, Brutus...While Caesar makes his grand entrances, the other actors seem at loose ends...We certainly have more to worry about than an ill-conceived 'Julius Caesar' that’s good for a few laughs and not much more."
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June 13th, 2017

"This production may have gone too far...I thought the depiction of Caesar as Trump was unnecessary. Audiences are intelligent and might have drawn their own conclusions, but this forced comparison seems a bit of a stretch...I didn't hate this production outright...Highlights of the park production are the inclusion of 'audience members' in crowd scenes...The play is fast-paced for a two-hour run, but suffers a loss of energy after the murder scene."
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Z
June 13th, 2017

“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."
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June 19th, 2017

"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."
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F
June 18th, 2017

"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."
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June 22nd, 2017

“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."
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N
June 10th, 2017

"This enactment may be one of the best of the plays inspired (or provoked) by the election and presidency of Donald Trump...This play is worth seeing for Thompson and Marvel, among the great stage actors of the moment...Quite a stretch to say it’s about people protesting against Donald Trump. But it makes a lively play!...Eustis’s take on this 16th-century play deserves a life beyond the Delacorte."
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