This is part of an ongoing series of regional Shakespeare coverage. It’s Tori here with the latest in Shakespeare news from Toronto.
Wolf Manor’s production of Caesar was an intimate and nuanced take on Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar. The cast of five actors took on the more than 30 roles and were able to convey the message that the actions of a small collective can have a massive impact and effect change, be it positive or negative. All five actors did a fantastic job and were able to transition between characters seamlessly; no one more so than Melanie Leon, whose transformation from Caesar to Portia was breathtaking to watch. Felix Beauchamp also did a fantastic job transitioning between his many roles and never lost the audience for a second. This was aided by the simple, yet obvious costume changes, designed by Nikolas Nikita, that he and his fellow cast members transitioned between throughout the production. The use of red, white, and black lent a tremendous amount of meaning to the production as did the laurel crown that Caesar and later Cassius wore.
Megan Miles and Maddalena Vallecchi Williams dominated the production as Brutus and Cassius. Megan was able to convey the trepidation, sincere belief in her cause, and the remorse she felt once she realized that she was duped into murder by Cassius with ease and grace. She and Kevin Kashani as Mark Antony were the emotional centres of the play and their speeches at Caesar’s funeral were the highlight of the production. My only complaint was the substitution of “honourable souls” instead of “honourable men” in Antony’s funeral speech; while it made sense in the gender-bending production, it is such an iconic line that I wished it had been left untouched.
The set design was sparse but effective. I especially liked the centre piece made of books stabbed with the daggers that would be used against Caesar. It really helped convey the message that this story, though historical, is a universal one present not only in Shakespeare’s play, but in history books, fiction, and our current society. The actors made great use of the small space.
All in all, this was a great production from of one Toronto’s top up-and-coming indie theatre companies. Check their website at http://www.wolfmanortheatre.ca/ to find out more about their vision and to hear about future shows.