Disappointing Shakespeare in the Park
As part of the Seattle Outdoor Theatre Festival, Last Leaf’s production of Julius Caesar opened on the Museum Lawn of Volunteer Park, on Saturday July 14th ( the anniversary of another overthrow of tyranny) at 5 pm The show epitomized all the drawbacks of Shakespeare in the Park.
First of all, Julius Caesar is a bloody tragedy and it is difficult in a beautiful sunny park to take a tragedy seriously, the comedies are much more suited to the setting and relaxed atmosphere. Secondly, the museum lawn at Volunteer Park does not have an amphitheatre so the space is acoustically counter-productive. Thirdly, it is close to a very busy street, on a flight path directly to Sea-Tac and the space is not exactly closed to other activities. There are other parks, and other spaces which are less noisy. Fourthly, Shakespeare’s plays have large casts of MEN, making it necessary to cast women in men’s roles, and to double cast. Unfortunately the costumes did not help distinguish between characters. The show was visually unappealing since the color schemes and costumes were so dull. ( NB. Just ironing the costumes and set curtains would help enormously)
The direction of this production lacked any creativity or any technical skill. There was no “concept” and the blocking did not allow the actors to do their best. They were often pointed upstage when they were speaking, so that much of the play was inaudible. Some of the actors, such as Portia-Brutus’ wife, were inaudible. Mark Antony and Cassius shouted resulting in very unpleasant scratchy voices.
It is unfortunate that the production values, the direction and the costuming were not up to the task, the actors suffered as a result.
Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare, Last Leaf Productions, www.lastleaf99.org