by Lynn on November 25, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At Hart House Theatre, Toronto, Ont.

Written by Kaitlyn Riordan

Inspired by and adapted from the works of William Shakespeare

Directed by Eva Barrie.

Set by Rachel Forbes

Costumes by Julia Kim

Lighting by Chris Malkowski

Sound by Andy Trithardt

Cast: Whitney K. Ampadu

Felix Beauchamp

Ophilia Davis

John Echano

Patrick Fowler

Margaret Hild

Dixon John

Marley Kajan

Nelvin Law

Melanie Leon

JD Leslie

Alexandra Milne

Rahul Mishra

Jennifer Séguin

athena kaitlin trinh

Samantha Vu

Hardi Zala

Yusuf Zine

Kaitlyn Riordan and Eva Barrie have done interesting work with the theatre company Shakespeare in the Ruff as Co-Artistic Directors, focusing on Shakespeare’s plays with a feminist view. To that end Riordan adapted Julius Caesar a few years ago and presented the play (still with the same outcome for poor Caesar) but from the women’s point of view. They presented their production in Withrow Park two summers ago. Eva Barrie is revisiting the play with a new cast, presenting it in Hart House Theatre.

The focus is still on the women. Riordan in her adaptation and Barrie in her direction believe that the women in Shakespeare’s plays, while often silent are smarter than the men in charge. Caesar’s wife Calpurnia begged him not to go to the Senate house and for a while he agreed not to go. But then he changed his mind and went. That didn’t work out too well for him as we know. Brutus’ wife Portia knew something was wrong and urged him to share it with her. Smart woman. Portia begged Brutus not to let Antony speak after Caesar’s murder. He didn’t listen to her.

In Riordan’s adaptation she has culled lines from many of Shakespeare’s plays for her version: Hamlet, Macbeth, Richard III, some sonnets, even from the poem Fortune and Men’s Eyes. In this version Brutus’ mother Servilia (a strong Alexandra Milne) is in charge, dictating how he should progress in his career even going to far as to interfere in his marriage with Portia. The women know how to decipher the political climate; how to read an emotional charged situation and how to defuse it. It’s a bold and fascinating idea.

Again, director Eva Barrie uses the space of Hart House Theatre. Characters enter down aisles, or are the rabble speaking from the audience. The stage is well used as well. This is a very young cast of varying abilities with the text. One admires the commitment.

athena kaitlin trihn is very confident as Portia. She conveys the roiling emotions Portia is contending with as well as her sharp intellect and perceptions. Equally impressive is Whitney K. Ampadu as Calpurnia. Felix Beauchamp as Brutus has a command of the language is conveys Brutus’ dignity and class.

It was good to see the production again with such a young cast so committed to the work.

Hart House Theatre Presents:

From: Nov. 15, 2019.

Closes: Nov. 30, 2019.

Running Time: 1 hour and 55 minutes, no intermission.

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