Review: Julius Caesar (Unit 102)

Unit 102 brings Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar to life at Toronto’s Parkdale Theatre

This was my first time seeing the great Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and I am so happy that it was Unit 102’s production that I saw. They used their intimate Parkdale Theatre to its full potential and transported the audience to 44 BCE.

For anyone, like myself, not familiar with Julius Caesar here is a basic break down: Cassius and Brutus, played by Luis Fernandes and Brendon Smith, along with a handful of other men decide that Caesar, Carmine Lucarellli, has to be taken down. Caesar though is being warned by prophets and his wife not to go to the senate on the fateful day in question. Being both a stubborn and easily swayed politician he goes in against all their protests. The deed is done by Brutus and his gang, what follows is a bloody fight to win Rome. Amongst the fighting, the perpetrators search for a way to come to terms with what they have done.

The more theatre I see the more I am convinced that it is magic. Without prior warning, this strong cast of 15 kidnapped the audience and time traveled us back to the age of Julius Caesar. No longer were we sitting in a small grungy basement theatre in Parkdale, no we were on the streets of ancient Rome.

Being so close to the actors and with entrances and exits surrounding the audience, I truly felt like I was a spectator in the streets rather than an audience member. With blood and guts flying, I had to remind myself that there was not actually any chance that I would be charged as an accomplice to Caesar’s brutal and gory murder. As angry as he was Marc Antony, played by Zach Smadu, was not actually going pluck me from my seat.

Director Scott Walker chose to go full out for Unit 102’s production of Julius Caesar. No abridged version here, full text all the way baby! During intermission, I overheard someone mention that this is the first time Unit 102 has done a production in the round. It was a great choice and provided some great audience friendly staging and dynamics. My show buddy remarked that it was fantastic to see a production that really stayed true to the heart of the work by using both the full text and the full potential of the stage.

Along with the director and the actors, the production team did a brilliant job a creating a world for the actors to transport us to. They transformed the small theatre into the streets of Rome with a stone wall and bits of plaster strewn around the edges of the stage to match.

I am glad that my first Julius Caesar was done by such an A-team group. Proof of their talent is in the reception of the work. The night that I went, even the awkward seats behind the poles were full. It is always a joy for me to see beautiful indie theatre, and Unit 102 definitely fit that description.

Details

  • Julius Caesar is playing until November 30 at Unit 102 Theatre (376 Dufferin Street).
  • Shows run Wednesday to Saturday at 8 pm, with an additional matinee on Sundays at 2 pm.
  • Ticket prices are $20 at the door, and can be reserved by emailing unit102tix@gmail.com.

Photograph provided by Unit 102 of actor Carmine Lucarelli playing Julius Caesar.