Hail, the winners and losers of the controversial ‘Julius Caesar’

It’s all over — including the shouting.

As the dust settles on the just-wrapped, much-discussed “Julius Caesar” in Central Park some winners and losers have emerged.

Verily, some straddle both categories.

Winner: William Shakespeare. More than 400 years later, people are still talking about the writer.

Winner: William Shakespeare. More than 400 years later, people are still talking about the writer.

(Hulton Archive/Getty Images)

WINNERS

“Julius Caesar” Its cautionary message about the catastrophe that results when you try to preserve democracy by non-democratic means has never been clearer. Violence doesn’t work.

William Shakespeare The Bard of Avon’s been dead for more than 400 years but suddenly he’s the hot writer. “I hope this Shakespeare guy is enjoying his fifteen minutes of fame,” tweeted actor Michael McKean.

Theater There’s plenty of “entertainment” at the multiplex, and some people might be obsessed with Beyonce’s twins, but no single piece of entertainment has stirred up so much press as this revival of an old play that used Donald Trump as a stand-in for Caesar. People are actually talking about plays — and their undeniable power to provoke. And when we say provoke, we mean that as a good thing.

The Public Theater The renowned downtown seedbed of creativity (“Hair,” “A Chorus Line,” “Hamilton”) had the sterner stuff to stand “completely behind” its production. Some corporations knifed the producers in the back, but in the end, audiences and other benefactors will screw their courage to the sticking place and make more magic happen at the Delacourt Theater.

Loser: Bank of America pulled out of “Julius Caesar” for all the wrong reasons.

Loser: Bank of America pulled out of “Julius Caesar” for all the wrong reasons.

(Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Not Released (NR)

Unfriendly skies: Delta is also a loser for pulling out.

(winhorse/Getty Images)

Audiences Some 46,000 theatergoers have bragging rights to seeing one of the most controversial shows in recent history.

LOSERS

“Julius Caesar” The ultimate power play, like red MAGA caps and the word “sad,” has been tainted by its association with the 45th. Tragic. It has survived Marlon Brando in a toga, a lousy Broadway run starring Denzel Washington as Brutus, and Caesar was modeled on Barack Obama without incident. Worse, the parallel between the plot of “Caesar” doesn’t really match up to today’s politics, so it ended up as a bit of a miss.

Corporations Bank of America and Delta pulled sponsorship of the show, reminding that big business is fair-weather friends. When all is rosy, they like having their names on programs as fancy patrons of the arts. When the going gets rough, they’re gone.

The Public Theater “Julius Caesar” is a malleable play — and political leaders have been conjured before. Trump-as-Caesar wasn’t a terrible idea — but handled so heavy handedly that it swamped the production.

Self-promoting protesters Two people got arrested for disrupting the play, but it was clear that their goals were to boost their blog traffic, not protest any actual political ideals. At least Brutus’s motive were in the right place.

Tags:
julius caesar
central park
shakespeare

Send a Letter to the Editor

Join the Conversation:
facebook
Tweet

Entertainment Rss