Having entertained outdoors with Shakespearean comedies and kids shows since its inception in 2016, Melbourne Shakespeare Company has also headed indoors recently to interpret the Bard’s tragedies.

First came a highly regarded King Lear in 2021, and now Julius Caesar, directed by Richard Murphet with clarity, purposeful energy and a strong understanding of the text. With the barest of sets and hardly a prop, the cast of 16 are front and centre. Almost all – and certainly all who really matter – deliver strong performances that convey the dark psychology of Shakespeare’s ancient Roman political drama.

Melbourne Shakespeare Company Julius Caesar. Photo supplied

Probably first performed at the new Globe Theatre in 1599, Julius Caesar is not so much focused on the man himself as the conspirators who murder him, and those who remain true even after his death. Almost as soon as the play begins, when Caesar returns in triumph to Rome, Cassius approaches Brutus to plant the idea that their leader is reaching for too much power. Caesar should be assassinated for the good of the republic, he argues.

Although Brutus is Caesar’s friend and ally he soon agrees, and...