Camden Fringe 2022: Rome 3000 (Julius Caesar) at Canal Cafe Theatre
The Camden Fringe Festival is a golden opportunity for the London crowd to discover little gems of theatre scattered around the city and get closer to smaller theatre companies’ creative craft. Rome 3000 inaugurates the season brilliantly in both senses: the production opens at the Canal Cafe Theatre (a charming pub theatre in Maida Vale just off the Little Venice towpath), relocating for a few performances at the Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone, to return then to the tranquil waterside venue later in the month. The cast and creatives behind the production are the Shed Theatre Company, born – that’s right – in a shed in Cardiff, and now established in East London.
This multifaceted retelling of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar is set in a somewhat distant future. Caesar (Evan L Barker) is ambitious – too ambitious for the valiant Brutus (Tor Leijten), Cassius (Florence Guy) and Casca (Mathilde Majnon), who decide to plot against him for the greater good of Rome. However, with carefully constructed oratory, Anthony (Alun Rees) manages to sway the favour of the people towards himself and Octavius (Clara Rozzi).
The show is presented as a combination of multiple styles, including cabaret, with a post-apocalyptic setting. A few components (such as the lines in other languages thrown into the script) do not fit perfectly, either because they are not introduced well or are mismatched with the overall picture. That said, the addition (particularly in the second act) of live music and sounds – including the presence of an electric cello on stage – is wonderful: viewers are welcomed with a thumping edition of the Stereophonics’ C’est la Vie, as well as an original by Alun Rees, Ode to Caesar. The characters of the soothsayers, at times transforming into undefined ethereal entities (living omens or ambiguous spirits of the city?), are intriguing, and it would have been great to have had more such choreography and tweaks in the script to set the tone. The performances from every cast member are vigorous, bringing about agile sequences. The three murderous noblemen are particularly close-knit, with Rozzi and Krueger blending in and out of the scenes according to the roles.
Overall, Rome 3000 is a compact, animated version of the Bard’s tragedy.
Rome 3000 (Julius Caesar) is at Canal Cafe Theatre from 1st until 3rd August and from 6th until 8th August 2022. For further information or to book visit here.
Camden Fringe is on from 1st until 28th August 2022. For further information visit here.