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Review: Jeff Goldberg Studio's JULIUS CAESAR at Royal Opera House

Now on stage at the Royal Opera House

Review: Jeff Goldberg Studio's JULIUS CAESAR at Royal Opera House Review: Jeff Goldberg Studio's JULIUS CAESAR at Royal Opera House

"Cowards die many times before their deaths..."

This Shakespearean gem from Julius Caesar reverberated across the halls of the Royal Opera House, Mumbai. A brand new stage production of the play by Jeff Goldberg, Farah Momin, and their excellent team at the Jeff Goldberg Studio, is all set to rejoice audiences in the upcoming weeks.

It is always remarkable to see how a performance of a Shakespearean play can change the significance of its characters. This evening, Cassius, played by the splendid Mahathi Ramesh, stole the show with her unique portrayal of the character. It was not the shock of watching a woman play a character that was written for a man, nor was it the insidious plot that Cassius hatches, but rather the feisty performance by the actor that added fervor to the show. At once her performance reminds one of the other characters that resemble Cassius' cowardice and ambition across Shakespeare's oeuvre. In Goldberg's Julius Caesar, Cassius seems to embody Lady Macbeth's angst and Bassanio's brotherhood.Review: Jeff Goldberg Studio's JULIUS CAESAR at Royal Opera House

The show is held together by the dynamic performances of Khamarushk Kunder (Mark Anthony) and Akshat Mishra (Brutus). They work in synchronization to bring out Cassius' aspirations and cowardice, augmented by the visual spectacle of the play. A large moon envelops the stage where the Romans yelp in unison, "Hail Caesar!". The stage machinery develops the mood of the play, designed by Nicky Pickky. Furthermore, the show chooses classical music as its friend, filling the auditorium with melodies that preempt the betrayal of Brutus and Caesar's noblemen. The costumes are stellar, the red robe with which Mark Anthony drapes Caesar's dead body is a scene one will remember long after the play.

In addition to Caesar, Brutus, and Cassius' dominant stage presence, I also enjoyed Portia and the Soothsayer in their respective moments. Portia, played by Afshan Khan, sparkled with her swift movement from a dutiful wife to an impatient yet curious participant in Brutus' life. Raj Mishra as the Soothsayer, haggard and wise, towered over the stage in his scenes, reminding us to never forget Julius Caesar's untoward demise.Review: Jeff Goldberg Studio's JULIUS CAESAR at Royal Opera House

As the aftermath of the pandemic lingers on, the collective experience of watching a Shakespearean production was just what I needed to add a bounce to my step again. I heard strangers belt out Mark Anthony's monologue from behind me in the audience, and witnessed the expectant gaze of a friend watching their friend perform, eagerly observing their every move. An ardent critic was spotted mocking Caesar's peculiar walk, suggesting that it mirrored a man enjoying a thrifty snack on a Mumbai street. Nowhere else can we enjoy the harmony of the familiar and the new altogether, as we do in theatre.

Know more about the show and book your tickets for Jeff Goldberg's Julius Caesar here.

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