The wifey and I have always enjoyed Shakespeare in the Park, by the Singapore Repertory Theatre. Thus when it was announced that Shakespeare in the Park will be back after a one year hiatus, we knew we must catch it again. We also knew that the best way to catch it was as VIP guests of Audi. This year though, I had to sign up a four-year servicing package with the auto company to reactivate my myAudiworld event membership.
When SRT announced the staging of Julius Caesar this year, I was afraid that Audi would choose not to sponsor it. Similar stagings of Julius Caesar overseas lost many big name sponsors because they chose to portray Julius Caesar as Donald Trump. SRT's take was also a modern one. However, thankfully, there's no hint of Trumpism here. I'm no expert when it comes to Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (though I know enough to be aware that Shakespeare's intention was more political drama than historic documentary). Therefore I'm commenting in the position of one who thoroughly enjoyed the "show", rather than a critic of SRT's interpretation.
I found it very interesting that SRT decided to cast women for the role of Julius Caesar and Caius Cassius. This is certainly a nod to the increasing number of women in power today; bringing to mind women such as Angela Merkel and Theresa May. Would women be less susceptible to the lures of power than men or does personal ambition fire to an equal extent both men and women?
SRT also decided to base the play on a modern setting, with R.O.M.E. drawing modern comparisons to international organizations such as the EU and ASEAN, or perhaps even the United Nations. Can there ever be such a "unifying" figure that the "world" would want to crown him "king"? Personally, it reminds me of the Biblical anti-Christ. He will come as a leader of peace, but will ultimately bring destruction. Unfortunately there won't be a Cassius or Brutus to nip him in the bud.
I'm sure the theme of taking the life of one for the good of the many would come up whenever one discusses Julius Caesar. I wonder whether the topic of how Brutus, despite the fact that he believed that what he was doing was for the good of Rome, was still plagued by guilt and insecurity, is ever discussed. Not only did he sacrifice his good friend Julius Caesar; he sacrificed his personal morality and peace of mind. Can such a deed ever be justified?
SRT was successful in portraying the relationship between the media and politics. It is disheartening to see the fickleness of the crowds; yet this is ever so real and prevalent in modern times. Never trust the media blindly.
SRT's rendition of Julius Caesar once again proved the timelessness of Shakespeare's plays. Even without examining the different themes and comparisons, the drama is enough to suck you into the plot. It was a truly enjoyable evening; not least because of the company.