‘An Adaptation of Julius Caesar’ at Molotov Theatre Group by Erica Laxson

Molotov Theatre Group presents yet another ambitious play and this time it’s Shakespeare who gets a taste of their unique French Horror flavor. Presenting a spectacularly gory adaptation of Julius Caesar by playwright Shawn Northrip, the troupe tackles this project with bloody ferocity and maniacal glee under the master direction of Kevin Finkelstein.

Jessica Thorne (Portia), Genevieve James Blasi (Cassius), Brandon Mitchell (Brutus), Brian Wahlquist (Mark Antony), James Radack (Julius Caesar), and Jennifer Speerstra (Calpurnia). Photo by Kevin Finkelstein.

What started out as a true to history narrative on the last days of Julius Cesear quickly evolves into a creative re-imagining of the ancient world. With just a twist of the truth, Molotov sheds light on one of the strangest ‘What Ifs’ of all time. Staying fairly true to the original Shakespearean for the first act, Northrip takes a chance in the second act to blend his adaptation into the ancient story. While the language doesn’t always mesh, Northrip gets his message across in an entertaining way and the audience is in for a screaming good time.

James Radack (Julius Ceasar, Metellus Cimber) was born to play Casear with his aquiline profile and easily fills his sandals with grace and power, and Genevieve James (Cassius) commands the stage. From joy and anger to happiness and fear, James captures each fleeting emotion with both her facial expression and subtle body language.

Brian Wahlquist (Mark Antony, Decius) and Brandon Mitchell (Marcus Brutus, Cinna) play foil to each other in a never-before-seen hero to villain role reversal, and by the end of the evening you won’t be quite sure who you’re rooting for. Wahlquist and Mitchell both exemplify an honest look at the raw human emotion of the past.

Jennifer Speerstra (Calpurnia, Trebonius) plays both loving wife and sensual queen with with ease and manipulates both her voice and body like a pro. Jessica Thorne (Portia, Publius) is an undeniably sweet Portia.

Angela Pirko (Soothsayer), Jessica Thorne (Portia), Genevieve James Blasi (Cassius), and Brandon Mitchell (Brutus). Photo by Kevin Finkelstein.

Evan Crump (Casca, Servant) and Angela Kay Pirko (Soothsayer, Conspirator) round out the Molotov cast as pivotal pawns of the evening. Despite heeding their questionable orders, both Crump and Pirko are unwilling and makes the audience know it. All cast members take their turn filling in the ranks of Julius Caesar’s large ensemble cast with speed and skill. From entitled senators to devious plotters, the entire Molotov team is truly committed to their art, no matter how small the part.

Lighting Designer Jason Aufdem-Brinke sets the horror tone with delightfully spooky mood lighting. Music director Konstantine Lortkipanidze and sound designer Mehdi Raoufi keep the ambitious second act set changes from wearing the audience down with delightfully spooky and rhythmic tracks through the final scenes.

Special Effects and Makeup Designer Alex Zavistovich proved himself a true renaissance man with wildly gory blood effects and some truly gruesome wounds, which really came to life in the intimate space. While more blood would have been ideal after all the hype surrounding the show, Zavistovich’s clever use of blood special effects truly brings the show to life.

Audiences be warned: those faint of heart or wearing designer duds should stay far away. If you’re up for an exciting historical adventure with unexpected turns and a twisted dark side, then Molotov has your kind of show.

An Adaptation of Julius Caesar runs through April 7, 2012 at Molotov Theatre Group at Fort Fringe – 607 New York Ave NW Washington, DC. For tickets call (866) 811-4111, or purchase them online.


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