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David Macdonald [ex-Edmund GL] play review


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Julius Caesar

By Judith Newmark



The Shakespeare Festival of St. Louis opened on Friday night in Forest Park its sixth annual production, "Julius Caesar."

But Julius Caesar isn't the center of the play that bears his name. That's Brutus, played by David Andrew Macdonald. Ultimately mourned as "the noblest Roman of them all," Brutus upholds all his society's virtues. He's honorable and dignified, a man of action when circumstance demands but a man of reason first. In some respects, Brutus presages Hamlet.

Macdonald's cerebral performance, taut and understated, is true to the character. But that may mean, by definition, that it can't be big enough for the festival stage. Macdonald's Brutus is an interior man, which might be perfect in a small theater like the ArtLoft or the downstairs stage at the Loretto-Hilton. But when the audience extends to the top of a very tall hill, the center holds a little too well.

Krista Hoeppner, who plays Brutus' noble wife, Portia, also brings more fire to the play, though her thrilling declaration of loyalty seems a little overwrought against Macdonald's understated response.

But their emotional balance is reaffirmed in their most touching moment: Portia bares her thigh to show Brutus a wound she inflicted upon herself, to prove her bravery, and he kneels before her in a long, loving embrace. It's like a wedding scene - and the image, though nearly wordless, speaks volumes.

Everybody look so good in their togas and loose-fitting gowns that you wish they'd come back into style.

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