Also credited as joint fight arranger)
It has been a night of achievement at the Belgrade Theatre, Covenry. The Company's first Shakespearean production, Julius Caesar, which began a fortnight's run yesterday, is the most interesting, and in some ways the most rewarding work we have seen from them.
Ambition in repertory is no fault; it is the breath which invokes latent life. One sensed last night, more than ever before, the exciting promise of the Belgrade.
Only promise as yet, for limitations of the Company stop this from being more than a good production, despite three admirable, contrasting performances by Frederick Bartman, Clinton Greyn and Robert Marsden in the leading roles. The concept is great, however, and one hopes it will give its director, Bryan Bailey, the courage to aim high. The Belgrade can be a superb theatre in more than bricks and mortar.
Mr Bailey is sensibly presenting the play in two parts, the interval falling in the action's only natural break, after Antony has roused the rabble of Rome to avenge their Emperor's death and the conspirators have fled. Less wisely, perhaps, he retains the insignificant scene in which the innocent poet is put to death, and so loses an excellent interval curtain.
The Antony of Clinton Greyn is a performance of calibre. He looks well, speaks the verse with the confidence of understanding and gains stature with the role.
Frederick Bartman is a surly, snarling Cassius,all spite and venom. It is a notable performance, effectively in contrast to the Brutus of Robert Marsden, though never moving enough in the scene of quarrel and reconciliation.
Mr Marsden's work ranges from mediocrity to near-perfection, I was disappointed by his early scenes last night; he seemed too lifeless, too insensitive to be moved to action by the scheming and smooth words of Cassius. After Caesar's murder - which was well-staged - his performance rises. Now he is noble indeed, the fatalist, proud but never haughty, dedicated and sincere.
I have said the players of minor roles fall short of these three, but there are exceptions, notably Charles Kay, an excellent Casca, Barbara Atkinson, an intensely moving Portia, and Peter Palmer, a strong, expressive Decius. I liked the Caesar of Malcolm Rogers, felt Patsy Byrne ill-cast as Caesar's wife, but found much that was good in the work of Alan Howard and Terry Wale.
Finally a criticism, not of the actors, but of a section of the audience whose misplaced and inexplicable laughter threatened to destroy the effect of the later scenes. The play is being presented partly for the benefit of local students and there were many in the house last night. If the Company cannot claim appreciation from them all, they - and the rest of the audience - can at least expect intelligent respect.
The Coventry Evening Telegraph, 4.3.1959.
........... Fights, one of which went slightly awry on Tuesday, are fairly realistic at times, and have been arranged by Clinton Greyn and Alan Howard............