top of page

Great Lakes Theater’s production of ‘Julius Caesar’ cuts to the quick with dazzling stagecraft

Et tu, Brute? Beware the Ides of March. Yond Cassius has a lean and hungry look: He thinks too much: such men are dangerous. Cowards die many times before their deaths, the valiant never taste of death but once. But, for mine own part, it was Greek to me. Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war. Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears.

Even to those unaware of the works of William Shakespeare these phrases are well known through the ages. They have been added to the world’s vernacular ever since the play Julius Caesar was first performed in September of 1599 at the Globe Theatre in London, England. This classic example of one of Shakespeare’s greatest tragedy plays is currently being performed by Great Lakes Theater in the Hanna Theatre at Playhouse Square. The production is aptly directed by Sara Bruner.

Julius Caesar (Carole Healy*) has returned to Rome in triumph having defeated the sons of his military rival Pompey. While the citizens of Rome are ecstatic over his return and voctory the Senators plot to kill the man they see as ambitious even though he refused the crown of emperor three times. The leader of the plot, Cassius (Laura Welsh Berg*) attempts to enlist the aid of Caesar’s friend, Brutus (Lynn Robert Berg*) by showing him forged letters attributed to the citizens of Rome. Brutus, after weighing his love for Caesar over his love for Rome decides to join in the conspiracy.

In spite of being warned by not only her husband, Calphurnius (M. A. Taylor) but also the soothsayer (Jodi Dominick*), “Beware the Ides of March,” Caesar picks that day to appear at the Senate. Once there, the conspirators come to Caesar with a fake petition that pleads for leniency in concerns of Metellus Cimer’s (Mack Shirilla*) brother who was banished from Rome. Caesar rejects the petition. This allows the conspirators to get close enough to strike as Casca (Alex Syiek*) attacks first followed by the rest and ending in Brutus administering the fatal blow. It is then that Caesar looks at his friend and gasps, “Et tu, Brute?” as she dies.

After the murder, Caesar’s true friend Mark Antony arrives as the killers decide to take Caesar’s body to the square and explain to the citizens that they acted out of love for Rome. Antony convinces the Senators to allow him to speak which they agree but only after Brutus gives his oratory.

After Brutus delivers his explanation for the murder, Mark Antony begins his soliloquy saying, “Friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me your ears.” while seemingly praising, “for Brutus is an honourable man; So are they all, all honourable men...” he is in fact able to turn the mob against the conspirators by reading Caesar’s will to the people.

Great Lakes Theater is renowned for presenting the very best in classic theater that includes the finest renderings of Shakespearean plays in the country. Their newest production of Julius Caesar is nothing short of spectacular with some wonderful surprises in the casting.

Carole Healey does a wonderful job as Caesar as a woman attempting to hide serous health problems that are getting in the way of her secret ambitions. The other gender swapped roles are Laura Welsh Berg who is convincing as the conspiring Cassius and M. A. Taylor taking the role of Caesar’s husband Calphurnius. Lynn Robert Berg is extraordinary as the conflicted Brutus giving his all in the pivotal role. Nick Steen * is a perfect choice as Mark Antony with his chiseled looks and fine voice. One last bit of delight is Jahir Hipps as Brutus’ servant Lucius as he plays the role of truly devoted underling to his troubled master.

The Russell Metheny designed stage being somewhat stark is surprisingly functional with steel towers and a second floor walkway. Flashing lights and cloud emitting jets add to the drama. The costuming by Leah Piehl can best be described as ”Roman modern” with ample us of leather breast plate armor and an ingenious “clean” way of showing blood flow from the many aerated bodies. This show calls for creative lighting due to the cast being placed in every nook and cranny as well as in front of the stage proper itself. Lighting designer Rick Martin is definitely up to the challenge. An oft overlooked position is fight choreographer and Ken Merckx gives an almost ballet feel to the bodies flying around the stage in an accelerated manner.

You have not really experienced theater until you have witnessed one of Shakespeare’s greatest works done exceptionally well by a most professional of theater groups. Have no fear of being able to decipher the Middle English tongue. This production is done in the most easily understood manner. This is great theater and should not be missed.

Julius Caesar runs through November 3, 2019 in the Hanna Theatre, 2067 E. 14th Street, Cleveland, Ohio at Playhouse Square. For tickets and information go to, call (216) 241-6000 or stop by the Playhouse Square Ticket Office located in the outer lobby of the State Theatre.

  • Facebook B&W
  • Twitter B&W
Who is Mark Horning?

Over the course of my life I have worked a variety of jobs including newspapers, retail camera sales and photography. Eight years ago I embarked on yet another career as writer. This included articles concerning sports and cultural events in Cleveland, Ohio as well reviews of the many theatrical productions around town. These days are spent photographing professional dance groups, theater companies and various galas and festivals as well as attending various stage performances and posting reviews about them.  

bottom of page