You might not want to sit on the front row.
But actually, having a little blood sprayed on you is a small price to pay to enjoy the Trinity Shakespeare Festivals superbly acted production of Julius Caesar at the Hays Theatre on the TCU campus.
The body count in this historical tragedy is up there with Hamlet, and the blood often gushes like a Spindletop oil well. But the real killer aspect of this show is an incredibly strong cast, led by Richard Haratine, as Brutus, and Alex Organ, as Anthony. The former delivers a highly forceful, externalized performance, while the latter demonstrates an exceptional talent for internalizing his character. When Organs Anthony mourns for the thoroughly perforated Caesar (David Coffee) at his feet, his grief reads even more vividly in his eyes than his lines.
Coffee again shows his ability to move effectively from ridiculous (the comic part he played in The Taming of the Shrew, the other play in this festival) to regal with ease. And G. David Trosko, who was also hilarious in Shrew, pulls off much the same feat with his deadly serious character, Metellus.
Rounding out this fabulous ensemble are Steven Pounders (Cassius), Brandon Potter (Caska), Chuck Huber (Decius and Titinius) and Wyn Delano, playing five small roles. All are first rate.
Who is the best of the bunch? Take your pick. Because another impressive thing about this production is the balance of talent up and down the cast list. And although this play is a mans world, both Trisha Miller (Calpurnia) and Jenny Ledel (Portia) do enough with their tiny parts to make it clear they are fully capable of keeping up with the fellas.
Framing this plethora of fine performances is a deceptively simple looking, but highly versatile set by Brian Clinnin. The enormous bas relief he created for the backdrop is stunning in its size, artistry and detail.
And because the set is just basically a set of steps, the exceptionally good lighting by Ethan Steimel and brilliant sound design by Toby Jaguar Algya make major contributions to building the stab-happy, blood-drenched world of this play, which was directed by Stephen Fried.
So check your ticket to determine if you need to bring along a raincoat. But even if that is necessary, you are urged to make sure some performance of this tragic bloodbath includes Caesar, Brutus, Anthony et tu.