Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Donmar Takes a Bite out of the Big Apple; as Its Thrilling All-Female Production of Julius Caesar, Wows Brooklyn Audiences, Tom Teodorczuk Reports on How the Tiny Covent Garden Theatre Is Packing Such a Punch in New York

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Donmar Takes a Bite out of the Big Apple; as Its Thrilling All-Female Production of Julius Caesar, Wows Brooklyn Audiences, Tom Teodorczuk Reports on How the Tiny Covent Garden Theatre Is Packing Such a Punch in New York

Article excerpt

Byline: Tom Teodorczuk

IF POWER is the ultimate aphrodisiac, then plenty of love surrounded the opening night of the New York transfer of the Donmar Warehouse's all-female production of Julius Caesar, held at Brooklyn arts space St Ann's Warehouse last week.

An influential New York crowd, appropriately filled with female heavyweights, including Jane Fonda and Vagina Monologues writer Eve Ensler, gave a standing ovation to the Donmar's production, which sets Shakespeare's study of power and rivalry inside a women's prison. The production is at St Ann's Warehouse in the DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) artistic district of Brooklyn, and the afterparty was held at the borough's fabled boxing club, Gleason's. Fonda tweeted that the play, directed by Phyllida Lloyd, was "fab" and a "must see" while Imogen Lloyd Webber (producer daughter of Andrew Lloyd Webber), rated it "the best Shakespeare I've ever seen". Actor Brian Cox said: "I saw it at the Donmar and here and both times I was impressed at what the productions said about women in the world -- their expressions and dilemmas." Meryl Streep had been seen in the audience at St Ann's a few nights earlier.

The production, whose 10-week run at the 250-seat Donmar ended in February, required a radical overhaul of St Ann's, which has a capacity of 1,200. Ten of its 14-strong cast have crossed the Atlantic, including Frances Barber as Caesar, Harriet Walter as Brutus and Cush Jumbo as Mark Antony, and the show broke box office records at St Ann's before it opened.

As in London last winter, Julius Caesar has ignited a lively debate in New York over gender and politics. "Friends, Romans and countrywomen?" queried the New York Daily News. But the critical reception to it has proved less polarising than at the Donmar, with the production receiving the best reviews for any revival during the current New York season. Ben Brantley, the influential critic of the New York Times, wrote: "This interpretation of one of Shakespeare's most manly tragedies ... generates a higher testosterone level than any I have seen." The New York Post raved that Julius Caesar was "gripping all the way through, from brutal beginning to bloody end". …

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