So, friends, Julius Caesar is on BBC iPlayer. Available until 10.29pm on Sunday 1 July. Go here for my round-up of reactions, including links to reviews from the Guardian, The Independent and The Arts Desk, and here for my blog during last night’s broadcast. There is an interesting thread under the Guardian review, and I have posted a couple of the comments across the jump at the bottom. And now I have added a (lengthy) digest of the past 36 hours on Twitter. For me, one of the the most thoughtful responses so far is Peter Kirwan’s at The Bardathon blog which is really worth reading.
Voices from the Twitterverse over the past 36 hours – the chronology is from the bottom up:
@joannebryce Watching RSC 2012 production of Julius Caesar…. it’s fabulous 😀
@SqualidScribe I don’t care who knows it; I really enjoyed the RSC Julius Caesar on the BBC. #SuchANerd
@TomWileman RSC production of Julius Caesar. #OMG
@crysta_ked The RSC’s Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar set in Modrern African State is brilliant.
@Kraig_Walker Loved the film version of Hamlet by the RSC. Now they’ve done Julius Caesar:http://bbc.in/LsCp74
@ashnaJH The RSC are effortless! – Julius Caesarhttp://bbc.in/LsCp74
@infinite_walrus iPlayer that Julius Caesar RSC production, by the way. Properly brilliant.
@Lokster71 This RSC BBC Julius Caesar is superb. Or at least I think so.
@1an3llison Now watching the RSC’s excellent production of Julius Caesar on BBC iplayer
@PEARSEuk Watching “Julius Caesar” by The #RSC All-Black Cast. #Inspirational #BBCiPlayer
@JaayEmmBee I’m watching the RSC’s production of Julius Caesar. This is brilliant.
@Angelophile Okay, not completed viewing it yet (it’s almost 3 hours), but the BBC/RSC’s production of Julius Caesar is, so far, as amazing as it sounded
@geekyimran watching RSC’s production of Julius Caesar on BBCiPlayer, forgot how much love Shakespeare 🙂
@John_Parkins Julius Caesarhttp://bbc.in/LsCp74Excellent adaptation by the RSC on BBC Four.
@NotJoeAnderson Watching the RSC’s production of Julius Caesar on #bbciplayer. It’s set in modern day Africa, and it’s actually bloody good…
@Dorian2487 RT @ValentineUKIP: Back from Julius Caesar at the RSC I had a posh seat next to Greg Doran & next to him? Prince Charles incognito
@TheDeadDuck 2 hours ago Well that was bloody fantastic. Would highly recommend you check it out. 2012 RSC film of Julius Caesar. I assume it’s on iplayer.
@markravenhill Watch the RSC Julius Caesar on BBCiplayer. A landmark production for the company. Coming soon to London’s glittrin W.E.
@Eryth Paterson Joseph: AWESOME as Brutus. #JuliusCaesar And thank goodness for the BBC iPlayer.
@DaiGoch I come to praise #JuliusCaesar not bury it. Truely brilliant production on #bbc4 last night. You really, really should watch it
@Hannah Boschen @amanda_wrigley #JuliusCaesar I agree! Didn’t think it was possible for it to be better than the stage version! Congratulate your boss! 🙂
@leonora1 @TheRSC Thank you for the wonderful #JuliusCaesar #BBC4
@BoxMan_MK2 Black Caesar courtesy of BBC | Julius Caesar http://bbc.in/LsCp74—> featuring a distinguished black cast
@junrussell BBC4 The RSC Julius Caesar, then Iceland with Julia Bradbury. That’s where I’ve been the last couple of hours. Grand..
@JC1403 Can’t say enough good things about the RSC’s latest production of ‘Julius Caesar’. Thoroughly enjoyed it and loved the African setting.
@jane_fieldsend Football? Nah… Much better choice RSC Julius Caesar with all black cast set in an African state. Gripping stuff…
@jgunson1989 An absolutely fantastic RSC production of Julius Caesar set in Africa on BBC4 this evening. Really brilliant.
@neilefawcett Thanks BBC for an evening of awe inspiring drama. #RSC Julius Caesar #BBC4more than compensated for the loss of BBC1 schedule to football.
@sassykitty2 RSC African type Julius Caesar was great! Gather some sort of footie defeat occured too.
@LazarusTheatre watching the wonderful RSC JULIUS CAESAR on BBC4…
@JemRoberts BBC4 RSC Julius Caesar is superb, but the African accents sound so close to Welsh at times I’m trying hard not to think of Pobol Y Cwm.
@rosscloney Am much loving the RSC production of Julius Caesar on BBC4
@David_Freedman RSC/BBC African set “Julius Caesar” is absolutely super so far. Well done Gregory Doran.
@fishhake Magnificent RSC production of Julius Caesar on BBC4.
@kentarttherapy Watching @RSC’s Julius Caesar on BBC4#, really enjoying, fantastic acting
@zerocarbonworld RT @Nufkin: Everyone on twitter. Turn to BBC 4 now and have your mind blown. RSC doing Julius Caesar
@respros Watching RSC Julius Caesar on BBC Four wishing I had more money to go to the theatre.
@JWalkerwords Excellent Julius Caesar from the RSC on BBC4; had just seen the Oddsocks production at #ValentinesMansion. A feast.
@jgunson1989 An absolutely fantastic RSC production of Julius Caesar set in Africa on BBC4 this evening. Really brilliant.
@neilefawcett Thanks BBC for an evening of awe inspiring drama. #RSC JuliusCaesar #BBC4 more than compensated for the loss of BBC1 schedule to football.
@TopTVCameraman Cracking RSC Julius Caesar on BBC4, wonderfully acted with the lighting brave and superb – this is what the BBC is for, let’s have more.
@DavidBEdgar On BBC4 Greg Doran’s Julius Caesar in which the noble heroic one is always wrong and the cynical technical one right. Sorry, England.
@amanda_wrigley @HannahBoschen @TheRSC #JuliusCaesar So much more powerful for me even than the stage version! I even shed a tear! Glad you loved it 🙂
@IsisArts @Illuminations Thanks for the behind-the-scenes details tonight, very enjoyable. #JuliusCaesar
@MadocLeonard RSC’s Julius Caesar #bbc4 tonight was terrific, really powerful stuff. Thanks to the Beeb for broadcasting it.
@theatresnob Enjoyed Julius Caesar, tho some doubts about the portrayal of Brutus. He didn’t seem ‘the noblest Roman of them all’ more naive & misguided
@gilskidmore Julius Caesar on BBC4 was definitely worth missing the football for – not that I would have been watching the football anyway.
@thatdamndeborah Julius Caesar. BBC 4. Shakespeare. Genius. That is all.
@AnnaBrk Wow. #JuliusCaesar on BBC4 was amazing. Catch it on iPlayer if you missed it
@IsisArts @TheRSC I’m exhausted, that was WONDERFUL. Thanks & congratulations to everyone involved. #JuliusCaesar #BBC4
@thebeercolonel Wow, wow, and thrice wow, best thing on TV in a duck’s age top stuff @RSC et al, superbly done #JuliusCaesar
@Cirein_Croin That was absolutely amazing! #JuliusCaesar loved it XD.
@shaksper Conspirators 1 #JuliusCaesar 3 (full time)
@amanda_wrigley @TheRSC #JuliusCaesar Lucius and Brutus made me *weep*.#havenotissues
@SealManOnline Typical Shakespeare, has to be dramatic. He never heard of cyanide pills? #JuliusCaesar
@uwitness And Lucius is RIGHT in there! Lucius 1, Brutus 0. Lucius goes forward to the semis. #juliuscaesar
@uwitness OH NO! BRUTUS IS TAKING THE ULTIMATE PENALTY!#juliuscaesar
@pmiller67 Tonight I have watched two sets of England performers playing Italians. #juliuscaesar #euro2012
@amanda_wrigley @TheRSC #JuliusCaesar The war setting is pretty damn good…
@mdoness Death and flowers in the grunge kitchen #juliuscaesar
@EricaWhyman The football is now so like #juliuscaesar I feel I’m watching both#nerverackingtragedy
@shaksper Conspirators 1 #JuliusCaesar 2
@amanda_wrigley @TheRSC #JuliusCaesar Their well made parting was indeed very well made. More brilliance.
@uwitness I’m on the edge of my seat. #juliuscaesar is going to penalties. I blame the Italians.
@mdoness Oh yes .. All RT @JazzPerkin @russell_kane What you going to see in stratford! Deffo go see #JuliusCaesar #kingjohn and #richardIII
@thebeercolonel Quite a clever way of showing Caesar’s ghost that #JuliusCaesar
@mdoness Oh cool. That’s a brilliant way to do the ghost scene. #juliuscaesar
@amanda_wrigley @TheRSC #JuliusCaesar Caesar’s ghost a bit gruesome.
@shaksper Oh, #JuliusCaesar is in the lantern!
@IsisArts Was Brutus always a megalomaniac, or did murdering Caesar tip him over the edge? #JuliusCaesar
@Bethhanie This is soo sick how they’ve turned it into a film #JuliusCaesar
@leonora1 @dredbeveridge No, we’re all watching #JuliusCaesar on #BBC4
@WeHappy_Few Ray Fearon is brilliant as Marc Anthony. Such a rousing speech/scene. #JuliusCaesar @amanda_wrigley
@TheRSC #JuliusCaesar Cor, liked very much the use of cameraphone in Cinna scene. Clever.
@KizaDeen YES YES YES @ivannojeremiah I SEE YOU BABE #JuliusCaesar
@shaksper Cinna just got necklaced #JuliusCaesar
@mdoness Oh god this cinna scene is so so scary #juliuscaesar
@jo_wads @TheRSC Ray Fearon plays Mark Anthony with such conviction. Stunning performance! #JuliusCaesar @bbcfour
@shaksper Conspirators 1 #JuliusCaesar 1
@scareydicarey1 Ooh. Just started watching #JuliusCaesar on BBC4 #interesting
@TheDailyEmma Ray Fearon is awesome as Mark Antony. #JuliusCaesar #BBCFour
@IsisArts This is incredible. #JuliusCaesar
@thisgreyspirit If you have tears, prepare to shed them now #Euro2012#JuliusCaesar
@WeHappy_Few “CRY HAVOC AND LET SLIP THE DOGS OF WAR.” I’m enjoying this. #juliuscaesar
@phil_bartlett RSC #JuliusCaesar wonderful. Paterson Joseph amazing.
@DaiGoch Watching Shakespeare’s #JuliusCaesar on #BBC4 is sort of England vs Italy Btw absolutely brilliant
@KizaDeen Yes! RAY FEARON Yes! #JuliusCaesar
@thebeercolonel Brutus really should have pre-approved Mark Antony’s funeral speech. #JuliusCaesar
@simplyhaydn AHHHH Here it comes!! #JuliusCaesar
@amanda_wrigley @TheRSC #juliuscaesar The assassination scene so much colder than the warm hues in previous scenes…
@clarabelleH @NoelClarke I know you’re watching the game but have you checked out BBC4….. #JuliusCaesar. iPlayer?! 🙂
@clarabelleH Am hearing more great reviews of #JuliusCaesar on BBC4 (am recording) @ivannojeremiah @Jude_owusu @markebulue 🙂
@Visionthing64 Loving #JuliusCaesar – hoping to get to Stratford to see it this week
@thebeercolonel Well, that was a top assassination #JuliusCaesar
@WeHappy_Few The escalators are an interesting addition. Where was this filmed, if I can ask?
@TheRSC #juliuscaesar @dilly_dot @Cirein_Croin really nasty stabbing scene. #juliuscaesar
@KizaDeen Oh my gosh this scene is too much. I LOVE PATERSON JOSEPH.#JuliusCaesar
@amanda_wrigley @TheRSC #JuliusCaesar Bloody hell! That was an amazing death scene. Hairs on arms leapt up!
@mdoness Was boiled over by #juliuscaesar @rsc was hungry to see it again already. Not disappointed by @bbcfour version. #Rightproperclassic
@shaksper Conspirators 1 #JuliusCaesar 0
@thebeercolonel Real sense of foreboding and tension being set up for what you know is coming #JuliusCaesar
@charlie_bate reluctantly switching back to the football, but on BBC4 this@TheRSC #JuliusCaesar set in Africa is incredible!!#thankgoditsrecording
@JerwoodSpace #JuliusCaesar #BBC4 doing the job for me. You? Erasing cardboard sets & airy thesping of #BBCShakespeare (apart from#JonathanMiller’s)
@kadiffkirwan @ivannojeremiah watching you kill it on BBC4 bro!! #JuliusCaesar
@IsisArts @TheRSC One of my most favourite scenes in any of#Shakespeare’s plays. That was wonderful. #BrutusandPortia#JuliusCaesar
@shaksper How many ages hence shall this lofty piece of television be wondered at in homes and classrooms yet unbuilt? #JuliusCaesar
@amanda_wrigley @TheRSC #JuliusCaesar Loving this scene between Paterson Joseph + Adjoa Andoh. So very good. And am going to start using the word ‘wafture’.
@LadyRed11_ Wow im really into this #JuliusCaesar adaptation on BBC4 #Heavy
@Elle_G_Lewys There is a slight irony that England vs Italy is going head to head with@TheRSC #JuliusCaesar on @BBC4
@WeHappy_Few Oh, I wish I could get to see this in Stratford. I can understand, so far, why it got such good reviews. #juliuscaesar
@thebeercolonel I wouldn’t be so keen on not killing Mark Antony fellow if I were you#JuliusCaesar
@shaksper Paterson Joseph completely owning the role of Brutus #JuliusCaesar
@IsisArts Paterson Joseph is excellent. #JuliusCaesar
@WeHappy_Few Am I the only person not watching the football? I’ve got @TheRSC#JuliusCaesar on instead. More entertaining.
@thebeercolonel They’ve really captured the atmosphere and feel of this production#JuliusCaesar
@s_coffer The footie or #juliuscaesar @BBC4? What a dilemma. It could be a night of total tragedy.
@TheDailyEmma Wish I’d gotten tickets for this production of #JuliusCaesar.#BBCFour @amanda_wrigley
@CaesarAugus @TheRSC #JuliusCaesar You don’t know what you’re missing! Do catch up with it later 🙂
@LoreleiKing The great thing about a shirtless Shakespearean actor is having such a clear view of diaphragmatic breathing. #noreally#juliuscaesar #bbc4
@leonora1 Watching #JuliusCaesar (Shakespeare, not Handel!) on #BBC4. Football? What football?
@JudithKilv @RSC #JuliusCaesar political drama at its best#muchmoreexcitingthanthefootball
@AnnaBrk Loving #JuliusCaesar on BBC4 – and I’ll bet it contains more suspense and drama than 22 men with a football.
@LoreleiKing DH not sure about having a urinal in #juliuscaesar… #bbc4
@MrShaneMorgan 15mins into #JuliusCaesar on BBC4 and it is devastatingly beautiful. Concept. Design. Performances. All captivating.
@emmacw #Juliuscaesar on bbc4. bloody brilliant.
@thebeercolonel That Cassius, pit of a stirrer isn’t he? #JuliusCaesar
@uwitness Cyril Nri and Paterson Joseph both have such beautiful voices. Watching them act together is a bit…*faints* #juliuscaesar Duncan
@shaksper Brutus and Cassius alone in a corridor. Oh yes. #JuliusCaesar
@uwitness Is it just my TV or is the sound on #juliuscaesar a bit *muffled*. Sounds like it’s all inside a cardboard box.
@amanda_wrigley @TheRSC #JuliusCaesar Had a little sofadance. Now in the film bit & it’s *beautifully* shot! Can hardly take eyes off television to type…
@LoreleiKing Have turned over to #juliuscaesar on #bbc4. This production is RIGID with talent.
@uwitness The sooner this #juliuscaesar moves onto the TV-filmed part the better. Filming a stage production *never* works.
@SaiPang Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war, it’s starting… #JuliusCaesar
@IsisArts Settling in to watch #JuliusCaesar on BBC4. Try to keep the noise down to a dull roar please, Twitter. Thanks very much.
@Scooby_Who @LoreleiKing far more overacting will occur in #Euro2012 than in#juliuscaesar
@shaksper Made a thermos of tea so that I don’t have to miss a second of@TheRSC #JuliusCaesar
@LoreleiKing Which I think is God’s way of telling you to watch #juliuscaesar #bbc4
… and from the Comments under Sam Wollaston’s Guardian review:
PoeticProfessor, 25 June 2012 1:18PM
What an appallling review – did you actually watch the play or just the trailer? This is not the sort of review I’d expect to see in the Guardian.
It was an excellent staging of the play with some outstanding performances, notably Paterson Joseph and Ray Fearon. The setting worked extremely well, the accents seemed to make the language more current. Mark Anthony’s speech was the best I have ever seen. It fits in perfectly with a range of modern stagings that have been done recently, starting perhaps with the excellent Richard III (1995 with Ian McKellen) to the recent DVD release Coriolanus. There were common elements here too, for example the executions were depicted as if filmed on an iphone, and the use of TV and media in Coriolanus. These aren’t clever gimmicks but add realism to the staging.
Gritty and urban, yes, contemporary and horrifying, yes. And very relevant.
PAN1, 25 June 2012 4:46PM
It was magnificent. The African theme worked brilliantly and all the acting was wonderful.
What I noticed most was that even though the characters adopted slight ‘African’ accents in keeping with the interpretation their words were crystal clear, and I say this as a person who has not read the play for decades.
The scene on the stairs gave the impression of guerilla hand to hand fighting in a urban setting.
Brutus and Mark Anthony were both brilliant.
This sort of thing is not gimmicky, it is how they do Shakespeare nowadays.
athenia, 25 June 2012 6:26PM
Bit concerned about Sam’s patronising tone but glad he felt better for getting through the performance. Perhaps he should post a copy of his review to Michael Gove and see if there’s a motivational use for it.
I thought this was a stunning account of the play – tense, insightful and completely gripping. Should they play it again, Sam, when more than 11 people might be viewing??
HildaAlphonse, 25 June 2012 10:32PM
I think this is a dismal review, it tells nothing about the performances, the impact, the connection with the original text or current relevance.
I am pretty ancient, I first saw a film of JC in a Baker Street Cinema about 100 years ago, James Mason as Brutus, Marlon Brando as Mark Anthony and I was enthralled throughout; later live at the Salisbury Playhouse I guess in the 1960s. I wonder what younger viewers thought of this version?
I was gripped by this performances: Portia, Brutus, Mark Anthony particularly. I did, however have a problem with Caesar who came across (and I guess by direction rather than actor) as a real tyrant or despot, whereas to make Anthony’s love for him, and funeral speech work, there must be more ambivalence, even if Anthony sees his death as an opportunity for his own advancement.
I also loved the set: Leninesque/ Bansky stencils of Caesar on the walls; fuzzy images of the wolf and cubs; francophone telephone cubicles; men conspiring in the public toilets (as they seem to in every other TV drama these days!).
I found the cadences and rhythms of the African accents compelling and crystal clear (unlike many things on telly now) wholly in keeping with the pentameters of the text.
Marvellous to have it so quickly on BBC4 (wonderful BBC4) to see, discuss and perhaps disagree about. At least we are watching, having the opportunity to watch.