Review: Julius Caesar

PLAY FOR OUR TIME: Sam West in Julius Caesar at the Crucible Sheffield
. PICTURES: Johan Persson
PLAY FOR OUR TIME: Sam West in Julius Caesar at the Crucible Sheffield . PICTURES: Johan Persson
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Crucible, Sheffield

The nature of the role of artistic director means there is a period of waiting before we get to see what the person running a theatre is made of. Robert Hastie, it transpires, is made of the kind of wit and panache that Sheffield has been attracting since the late 1990s.

His Julius Caesar looks like House of Cards set in a UN debating chamber and has elegance, pomp and ceremony mixed in with the blood, guts and gore. It really is a remarkable feat to have grasped the strange nuances and demands of the Crucible stage quite so firmly in his very first outing, but Hastie has done so with aplomb.

It reminded me of Racing Demon staged in 2011 as part of Daniel Evans’ David Hare season and even of Michael Grandage’s Don Carlos back in 2004. Hastie owns the space in the same way.

Sam West makes a very welcome return to the stage, playing an intense and intricately performed Brutus. Caesar feels like a perfect play for our times as politicians continue to play the public in the pursuit of politicking. Jonathan Hyde’s supercilious Caesar appears to be on a pedestal of his own creation and Elliot Cowan’s magnetic Mark Antony charms the crowds unnervingly easily. A remarkably assured production with a sense of urgency, vibrancy and necessity. The portents look positive.

To June 10.