Elwood Social Club Production’s quick-witted production, The Ides of March, is full of quick changes and rapidly paced, constant laughs. When Shakespeare’s trip back in time to research the death of Julius Caesar for his upcoming play gets him imprisoned for the murder himself, he and his assistant Cardenio must work their way out of trouble with both the crew of conspirators and the detectives who have joined the case.
With a constant barrage of puns, sly self awareness and its own brand of comedy to butter up the audience, the fourth wall becomes as thin as the space time continuum and pulls the audience along for the ride.
With its comic timing and rapid characters changes, sometimes back and forth many times within a scene, it bears a strong resemblance to one of its inspirations, The 39 Steps, which shared the same four cast members in a previous production. The change in physicality and vocals between the roles is a joy to watch, especially with many of the roles standing in stark contrast to each other.
The dynamic between Jennifer B Ashley and James Rosier completely flips through their double roles in the play. Ashley plays an overworked Cassius and the eccentrically effective Inspector Detectivus, and Rosier goes from the domineering and conniving Brutus to the detective’s flustered assistant. Writer and director Kieran Reginald Bullock plays a more ditzy and dependant Shakespeare, along with a brief role as the deadpan, exasperated Julius Caesar. And in addition to his role as Cardenio, Shakespeare’s inventive, responsible and neglected assistant, Paul Brown’s neurotic, skittish Casca is responsible for many of the play’s comic highlights. The sheer versatility with only four actors is both impressive and inventive, featuring chase scenes, in-universe doubles, and one of the most drawn out and hysterical takes on Caesar’s death I can imagine.
With heavy references to both pop culture and Shakespeare (both of which hit on opening night), the performance offers a way in both through dialogue and subtle shout outs through set and costume. However, the core of its strength comes not as an adaptation of either, but as its own piece. With a constant barrage of puns, sly self awareness and its own brand of comedy to butter up the audience, the fourth wall becomes as thin as the space time continuum and pulls the audience along for the ride.
With something to draw you in from every angle, Elwood Social Club Productions offers a night of energy, absurdity and sheer creativity that is not to be missed.