Julius 'Call Me Caesar' Caesar
- Lorna Irvine
- 25 August 2019
Andrew Maxwell debut play is a 'laurel' laughs
Seasoned Irish Fringe comic Andrew Maxwell is struggling with a bad summer throat, and it's hardly surprising, given he's sticking the boot into the braying thespian tropes of Shakespeare, which requires considerable physical strength.
The play, written by Belfast performer and writer Owen McCafferty, is essentially Caesar repurposed as a pub yarn, which suits the absurdist nature and flights of fancy of Maxwell, an engaging, wild-eyed performer.
Clad in a white boiler suit specked with fake blood, Maxwell plays all of the characters with infectious mania and a superb array of regional accents (why the soothsayer is from Yorkshire is never made clear though). The baying mob is represented by the audience itself, asked to chant for Caesar during rabble rousing speeches.
Even if the script goes over familiar ground – from the dick-swinging machismo inherent in much historical drama, to Caesar and Antony's all-consuming egotism – most of the ideas work. There are some lovely one-liners, such as 'leaders are like cats – they are independent, unreliable, and like to bury their own shit.'
Russell Bolam's direction of Maxwell means he is in capable hands, and the jokes mostly land – just like the orange Strepsil he enthusiastically lobs at the curtain.
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, until 26 Aug, 3pm, £13.50.