Is there a more terrifying line than Mark Antony's in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar: "Cry, 'Havoc!' And let slip the dogs of war"?
This powerful play is about self-deluded warrior-politicians; it is filled with conspiracy, ambition, corruption, betrayal, and tyranny. And if the leaders are vicious, the public, easily manipulated, is worse. The Lantern Theatre production, under the direction of Charles McMahon, is both intriguing and frustrating.
Julius Caesar is a play for all times, as Shakespeare's plays always turn out to be, whether the setting is ancient Rome or the forest of Arden. And because of this universality - when in human history has there not been a war or an unscrupulous politician? - there is no need to underscore Julius Caesar's relevance. We'll get it, whether the characters are wearing togas or three-piece suits. So why, to avoid the togas, did McMahon decide to substitute one shmata for another and locate the play in medieval Japan? Are samurais any more familiar to us than gladiators? The device contributes nothing but distraction.