|"Think you I am no stronger than my sex?"|
asks Brutus' wife ironically
in an all-female Julius Caesar
Lloyd’s concept could work just as well with an all-male cast, of course. But the women’s prison has an alienating quality that a men’s prison wouldn’t. The artifice of masculinity that most of these women adopt (think Snoop on The Wire) undermines the Roman and Elizabethan definitions of manhood that our culture still presumes are natural. Plus, it gives some incredible actors the chance to play juicy roles that would conventionally be denied to them.
|Harriet Walter plays Brutus,|
and Brutus is an honorable woman
Frances Barber outdoes her and everyone as Caesar (she played the eye-patched baby-napper on Doctor Who); she's an electrifying, bullying ranter with a muscular plug of a body and a great swaggering entrance. But then every performance here uncovers facets of the characters that rarely get explored, like Antony’s arc of growth from callow lieutenant to Caesar’s true heir, or Cassius’s kingmaker maneuvering. In the latter role, Jenny Jules has great chemistry with Walter, especially in those lovely late scenes of argument and camaraderie.
|Frances Barber plays a particularly|