We open with three singing revellers in headscarves; they seem too happy, and are quickly stopped to be questioned in the street. The 'cobbler' gives some rather saucy and flirtatious replies, revealing that the Roman people feel secure, even under Ceasar's influence. The scene also sets the style and tone for this all-female production – which condenses Shakespeare's plot to only a few minutes over the hour.
The six-strong cast is very well chosen: each conveys the class, office and stature of the Roman elite, but performs just as convincingly when they switch to supporting roles. There is a military greyness to the uniforms, offset with burgundy cloaks, a visual simplicity which drives us to pay attention to powerful performance and fluid scene changes. Lines are delivered as an invitation to read in between them; this makes for intimacy and realism.
The pace is swift, but doesn't feel hurried. And when the moment of action arrives, there is a palpable build-up of tension that fills the theatre. I feared somewhat that the younger patrons present would be terrified; the large daggers in the boots all look very real, and these ladies carry out their bloody assault like a pack of angry wolves. Sat only a few feet away, it all seemed very real, though quite moving, as they save Rome from greater tyranny.
Performed close-up, in a small and intimate theatre space, this makes for an effective and highly entertaining production.