Many scholars have argued over whether the central character in Shakespeare’s “Julius Caesar” is Caesar, the doomed dictator around whom the plot revolves, or Brutus, the chief conspirator who, after all, features in the bulk of the action after Caesar’s assassination.
In the New American Theatre’s current production at the McCadden Place Theatre, Jack Stehlin, who both directs and plays Brutus, leaves no doubt that this is very much Brutus’ play. In fact, Stehlin’s towering portrayal threatens to overshadow certain other performances.
Directorially speaking, Stehlin runs into the brick wall confronted by many American interpreters of Shakespeare, who have difficulty filling large casts with classically trained actors.
That is most obvious with the supernumerary roles. Fortunately, the crucial performances -- particularly Tom Groenwald’s bumptious Cassius and Scott Sheldon’s impassioned Mark Antony -- measure up to Stehlin’s own quietly cerebral but nonetheless chilling turn.