Dominic Dromgoole’s production has vigour and, in the first half, the right risky mood of volatility.
The packed courtyard of groundlings, sprinkled with actors playing the heckling and cheering plebeians, is naturally and powerfully pressed into service as the fickle crowd, swayed from supporting the assassins by the manipulative rhetoric of Mark Antony’s funeral oration.
Recent revivals have relocated the tragedy in a modern African state and as a play-within-a-play performed in a women’s prison. Dromgoole’s production goes back to the original modern-dress practice whereby the Romans appear in contemporary Elizabethan garb.
Tom McKay is a creditable, if slightly bland Brutus who takes you through the arguments but not into the nervous system of this flawed idealist. Anthony Howell is an excellent, testy Cassius. Christopher Logan gives a vividly amusing camp edge to Casca’s gossipy report on Caesar’s refusal of the crown. And towards the end there’s an understated, quietly devastating touch that chills the blood.
To 11 October (020-7401 9919)