Julius Caesar is one of the most familiar of Shakespearean productions, with sweeping themes of friendship, love, betrayal, power and politics. But can two-and-a-half hours of drama still captivate audiences today? Daniel Frederiksen, playing the enviable role of Marc Anthony certainly seems to think so: “Julius Caesar is first and foremost a play that is very relevant to us today. We live in a world of political instability, power hierarchies, corruption and people – and right here in Australia we can see how individuals are vying to be at the top of the chain.”
A modern adaptation that is located at the epicentre of politics, the drama is swift and unnerving but also very exciting, especially for Frederiksen who is thrilled to be playing one of the Bard’s most compelling characters: “Part of me is excited but the other part of me is quite terrified”, he admits, “this is the role that many of us remember Marlon Brando executing and his energy is unforgettable.”
And while the traditional dashing figure of Marc Anthony is normally played by an actor who embodies the strong masculine type, Frederiksen is chuffed to be bringing “a truckload of brains” to the character. “I’m a skinny, feminine looking fella” admits Frederiksen, “But watch out Brando!”
The production under the direction of Peter Evans, Associate Director of Bell Shakespeare, is set in the present; and while the dress code may have shifted from the toga to the suit, the dynamics of power play certainly haven’t changed. Using a number of stylistic devices, including complex choreography and movement (remember the original cast had 40 male and 2 female characters) and the choice to cast a woman to play the role of Cassius (Kate Mulvany), it certainly will be interesting to see how Evans’ direction translates into a modern production with Alex Menglet as Caesar at the helm. Will this be a production that lifts the veil on one of Shakespeare’s most renowned historical plays?
With numerous shows booked across the country and almost five months of touring, Frederiksen has plenty to look forward to, but what he really relishes (apart from the vociferous applause that has followed the company’s production) is the wonderful opportunity offered to him:
“This is an exceptionally well written and well portrayed work and while the language is more modern than the original Elizabethan, we still pay attention to meter and rhythm and other dramatic devices. Ultimately, what an audience receive is virtually the ‘heart’ of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.