The first time I ever heard about ‘The Bridge Theatre’ was in a copy of The Stage that gets delivered to my flat every week. After reading about the two Nicks starting a commercial theatre outside of TheatreLand I was determined to go watch a show there! Looking at the scheduled shows, sadly nothing interested me.. that is until I saw Julius Caesar!
Can I just start by praising the beautiful location of this theatre, I mean FINALLY! You arrive and the view of London is beautiful. A walk away you have Tower bridge and the lights at night are just FABULOUS!! YES, I LOVE THE LOCATION! (But who wouldn’t)
Back to the theatre itself: in the foyer, when you look up you can see the lights floating from the ceiling, they look so magical and remind me of the ceiling in the great hall in Harry Potter. (For those of you who haven’t watched HP, I’ve attached the photos below)
BRIDGE THEATRE | GREAT HALL. HP
I want to start my review by saying that I have never been to watch Julius Caesar EVER! Can you imagine? I know what you’re thinking ‘Where have you been?’ …but I’m glad I waited because what a great first time it was. I decided to go watch it after reading the play because they cast Cassius as a woman, because my boyfriend absolutely loves this show and because I’m doing Portia’s monologue for my drama school auditions.
Annnyway… The tickets I bought were for the pit, (Not a bank breaker if your signed up for the under 26 ticketing scheme) this meant that we would be a part of the immersive action on the ground with the actors. I love immersive shows, so was totally pumped.
The story is essentially about a war hero ‘Julius Caesar’ who comes back from war after his success and is asked to be king, but he refuses many times. Behind his back there are some lords creating a conspiracy to kill him, they do end up murdering him “for Rome”(SPOILER ALERT), then Caesar’s best friend Marc Anthony finds out and wants them to feel the wrath of justice. You can guess how it ends because it is a tragedy of course!
The main negative for me was the actors spraying the audience with their spit as they spoke, being showered by actors spit throughout the show isn’t the greatest experience.
Another thing that didn’t work for me was Michelle Fairley, Leaphia Darko and Adjoa Andoh’s performances. I just feel like Cassius wasn’t sneaky at all, the character felt too honest with no alterer motive. For Portia, I felt nothing… she was such a throw away character and Casca was extremely overacted.
My last critique is: at the peak of the play when Julius Caesar gets killed there’s too much going on with the ushers telling the audience to move around here and there, so the moment of betrayal is completely missed.
Now, in fairness… regardless of what I’ve said, congratulations to everyone for being involved because performing isn’t an easy job and I really enjoyed myself.
My favourite part of the show was the fact that the stage was always moving, so the audience were constantly herded into a new position as set/stage and actors where moved in and out of the space. (Congrats to the set designers, you did an amazing job!) I also loved the props given to the audience during the rallies, because I love being able to take stuff home from shows as a momento of the night I had.
Finally, I just want to shout out Ben Whishaw and David Calder for their performances because I feel like they both did a great job at being true to the text, not spitting and still managing to have a stage presence in all the immersive fuss.
If you haven’t seen it, book your ticket straight away! Best Shakespeare I’ve seen this year by far, but make sure you bring a mini umbrella.