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'Roman Tragedies' review or 'Lend me your eyes, ears, the whole damn lot!'

Roman Tragedies – Shakespeare (translation: Tom Kleijn)Barbican Theatre, 17th March 2017



I’m standing beside a coffee machine on the Barbican stage. I’m on my second coffee (I should’ve paced myself better – Roman Tragedies is six hours long) and I’m feeling jittery. I’m not the only one. Marcus Antonius (Hans Kesting – man beast) is standing next to me, waiting to speak at his great friend Julius Caesar’s funeral. In a matter of moments, Marcus Antonius will deliver the speech of his life (‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears…’) and bring Brutus’s rebellion to a crushing halt. But for now Marcus is waiting in the wings and he is nervous. And there is nothing that he can do to stop me from witnessing those jitters and fears.
The great joy of Ivo van Hove’s Shakespeare marathon – which roams and rattles through the Roman plays Coriolanus, Julius Caesar and Antony and Cleopatra – is found in the moments we would not normally see. For most of the production (barring the openin…

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