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Best written reviews for “Julius Caesar” performed by Stone Bridge High School in Ashburn, Virginia. Reviewed on May 22, 2021.

This show may be enjoyed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKSLANwXCqc


Leah Blum

South Lakes High School


"Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears." The memorable line from one of Shakespeare's most famous plays captured the essence of politics: listening to the person of highest authority. Through the use of a podcast/radio-show format, the line resounded with meaning. Stone Bridge High School's radio drama-style production of the classic Shakespearean play "Julius Caesar" was a complex, intriguing, and beautifully performed adaptation of the historical show.


The performance consisted of scenes one, two, and three of the third act of the play. Beginning with the titular character (voiced by Katie Reif)'s betrayal by the likes of the powerful Brutus (Theodore Streaker), the audio recording followed the story to the performance of the famous speeches by Brutus and subsequently Antony (Lucy Sampson) and continued on to the final display of the theme of authority with the witch hunt-like accusation of an innocent poet (Cori Teel) by the angered group gathered to hear the speeches (Diana Altenhof, Bella LoBue, Zack Burton, and Rachel Emch). The audio format lent itself beautifully to the play, as the actors and technicians created a multi-dimensional production through their performances and technical elements.


The audience, referred to as plebians' in the original script, displayed the characteristics of townspeople in the wake of a political uprising very effectively. Altenhof, LoBue, Burton, and Emch, playing these characters, worked well together, using excellent diction to both demonstrate the changing emotions of the crowd and differentiate between them. Streaker as Brutus was a subtle, stoic character, using his strong voice to command others in the scene and radiating authority. He held consistent energy throughout each scene and delivered clear, meaningful monologues as the traitor through well-developed pace and a clear understanding of the text. Sampson stood out as Antony, a conflicted and passionate performance, eliciting the character's emotions through every powerful line. Delivering long and important monologues, the range of Sampson's emotional diction was never lacking, and her energy was consistently high. Each line hit hard and true, drawing full attention to the character when speaking.


The technical aspects of the show completed the well-rounded and ever-interesting production. Original music by students Arman Moshafi and Evan Harris underscored key moments in each scene, building tension or adding to the atmosphere with beautiful melodies. The music did not at any point take away from the actors' performances and was subtle enough to draw no attention away from the dialogue while adding key atmosphere to the scenes. Katie Reif additionally managed the recording, sound mixing, and sound effects for the production. While some sound effects were pre-recorded, some of the most effective ones were created by Reif using practical Foley techniques. One such instance was the seamless incorporation of the slight crackling of paper as Antony opened Caesar's will. The effect added suspense and realism to the scene and created dimension in the performance without the need for a stage. Also contributed by Reif, the audio was accompanied by a simple yet beautiful image of a parchment for Caesar's will. This graphic aided in setting the atmosphere for the production and did not distract at all from the performance.


Overall, Stone Bridge High School's audio production of Act III of "Julius Caesar" was an excellently edited and produced performance. Their use of actor's voices as well as sound effects was effective and created a world through only sound. A beautiful performance, "Julius Caesar" was compelling, memorable, and impressive. With a finished product resembling a BBC radio drama, it was truly an example of great audio storytelling.

Cami DiVenere

Freedom High School


Most everyone is familiar with the iconic story of Julius Caesar. The intense betrayals, the dramatic deaths, the togas! But are most people familiar with how the play sounds? Due to COVID-19 constraints, Stone Bridge High School took Shakespeare's classic Julius Caesar off the stage and into the recording booth to create a BBC radio-style podcast version of the classic play!


Even without seeing them, the stark contrast between Lucy Sampson's Antony and Theodore Streaker's Brutus was very clear. Sampson's ear-catching monologues and dramatic pacing made her a stand-out actress in the podcast. Her sarcastic pokes at Brutus and intense tone of the speech made her an excellent voice to listen to and easy to picture on-stage. Streaker's Brutus was different in the best possible way. His subtly and rational calmness added excellent variation to the vocal levels of the podcast. Streaker played the role with a certain confidence and determination that played well off Sampson's Antony.


The ensemble of Plebians (Diana Altenhof as Balbinus, Bella LoBue as Caecilius, Zack Burton as Valerius, and Rachel Emch as Rufus) was the audience's guide in the podcast. Shakespeare's verses can sometimes be difficult to understand, especially if you're only listening to them. The ensemble provided a clear mood for each scene. Their overlapping dialogue aided in making clear where the characters were next headed, while also solidifying themselves as a strong and adept band of characters.


While her time in the podcast as a voice was short-lived, Katie Reif did more than just assume the role of Caesar. Not only did she do his climatic death a great justice, but she also skillfully executed all the other sounds in the podcast. As the podcast's foley artist, the sounds of parchment unfolding, sandals running, stabbing, and bodies hitting the ground were all the work of Reif. Her homemade sound effects blended in seamlessly with the scene and added to the environment of the podcast. And with the addition of original music compositions and performances by Arman Moshafi and Evan Harris, the background music and sound effects created a dark atmosphere, especially after Caesar's death.


With the intense acting and creative use of sound, Stone Bridge took a leap by using a unique setup and owned it. The podcast format was filled with great atmosphere and professional-like sound work that engaged audiences even without the four other senses. Stone Bridge High School's Julius Caesar was truly a treat for the ears.



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