Review Roundup: The Critics Weigh in on JULIUS CAESAR's Reign at Shakespeare in the Park
The Public Theater's Artistic Director Oskar Eustis directs Julius Caesar, Shakespeare's play of politics and power, last seen in the Park 17 years ago. Rome's leader, Julius Caesar, is a force unlike any the city has seen. Magnetic, populist, irreverent, he seems bent on absolute power.
A small band of patriots, devoted to the country's democratic traditions, must decide how to oppose him. Shakespeare's political masterpiece has never felt more contemporary.
Let's see what the critics have to say!
Jesse Green, The New York Times: But the loudest alarm in this cacophony of cautionary Trump tales is the one now sounding from the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, where the Public Theater's wild production of "Julius Caesar" has been in previews since May 23. (It opens officially on Monday.) Its depiction of a petulant, blondish Caesar in a blue suit, complete with gold bathtub and a pouty Slavic wife, takes onstage Trump-trolling to a startling new level.
Kyle Smith, National Review: No doubt this Julius Caesar will be credited with being "gutsy" and "timely" and "incendiary," but recall the nationwide CNN-led outrage that followed when a mere rodeo clown did a skit mildly poking fun at Barack Obama. The urban riots and protests with which Eustis sprinkles Julius Caesar, featuring youthful mobs spraying graffiti and emptying rubbish bins while shouting, "No justice, no peace," might well be matched by actual protests and actual rioting if this or any other major New York play gleefully depicted the stabbing murder of Barack Obama. That would not just have been daring; it would have required Eustis to hire a 24-7 security detail.
Adam Feldman, Time Out New York: The first production of Shakespeare in the Park this summer is a contemporary account of Julius Caesar, and the knives are already out for it. Directed by Public Theater torchbearer Oskar Eustis, this version of Shakespeare's Roman tragedy is set in modern-day Washington, D.C., complete with a Caesar (Gregg Henry) whose clothes, mannerisms, fluffy hair and Slavic-accented wife (Tina Benko) unmistakably suggest Donald Trump. Since the would-be autocrat comes to a bloody end halfway through the play, Breitbart and other right-leaning news sources have implied that this production is, if not an actual endorsement of Trumpicide, at least distasteful; Delta Air Lines has severed its relationship with the the Public in the resulting imbroglio, and Bank of America has pulled its sponsorship of the show.
Robert Kahn, NBC New York: Eustis, directing at Shakespeare in the Park for the first time in nearly a decade, isn't going for subtlety with this "Julius Caesar." In a production that may as well have been renamed "Donald Trump," the conquering hero (Gregg Henry) puts a hand on the crotch of his Slavic wife, picks on a "reporter" planted in the audience, posts to social media and bathes in a golden tub.