Part one runs 3 hours 15 minutes plus intervals, Part 2, 2 hours 45 minutes plus intervals. That's 6 hours of theatre. It's a good thing that the Swan Theatre has reasonably comfortable seats!
The plays cover the period of Roman history around Julius Caesar's (Peter de Jersey) rise to power, his assassination, and Octavian's subsequent rise, as seen through the eyes of Cicero (Richard McCabe) and his secretary, Tiro (Joseph Kloska).
We start out with Cicero's election as Consul, defeating patrician Cataline (Joe Dixon), who is Not Pleased (after all, it was his turn!) Cataline steals every scene he is in, with his gloriously over the top villainy!
As the play continues, we learn about the Cataline conspiracies, as Cataline, having failed to win election to a Consulship, attempts to get there by foul means rather than fair. (of course, an historian might point out that one of the main sources of evidence is the writings of Cicero, who was not exactly impartial, and who made his name by suppressing the Cataline conspiracies. But lets not be picky!)
|Stage and set|
The script was fun - lots of direct addresses to the audience, mainly by Tiro, but also by other characters who addressed the audience as if they were the Roman Senate, or people, and of course there were also a few topical allusions, and a sneaky nod to Oscar Wilde "To lose one Consul may be regarded as a misfortune, to lose two..."
I felt, too, that he cast was very strong - although regrettably (if perhaps inevitably, for a play about Politics in ancient Rome) rather short on women.
The performances I saw were the last ones, so you can't go to see it, but if you are like me you might decide to give the books a chance...