premiere 17 Jun 2007
Ivo van Hove’s epic is ‘one of the most audacious Shakespeare productions of the modern era’ (Time Out), and immerses you in the midst of the multimedia action.
‘A staggering six-hour spectacle, mixing theatre, music and video.’ Télérama
‘Making Shakespeare as understandable as possible: this is the strength of the route taken by Toneelgroep’ Libération
‘One word: go.’ New York Post
‘The highlight of the Wiener Festwochen... . Resounding applause after a stunning evening.’ Observer
‘The intensive, highly concentrated performance by the 15-strong ensemble of the Amsterdam-based Toneelgroep is transmitted by cameras live in close-up, and at the same time you experience it at first hand.’ Wiener Zeitung
‘Incredibly fascinating... This tightly-knit ensemble produces lively, gripping and nightmarish theatre of world quality. Bravo.’ Kurier
‘This world, perfectly created by Ivo van Hove with an excellent ensemble, lets Shakespeare’s contemporary relevance unfold...’ Kroner Zeitung
'Roman Tragedies is a theatrical triumph, and more than deserving of the standing ovation and multiple curtain calls it received on opening night. Without doubt, one of the very best productions of the year.' artshub Australia
'Roman Tragedies is a Dutch triumph. No doubt about it.' The Adelaide Review *****
'The Toneelgroep’s Roman marathon has a singularity of purpose that holds your attention from the opening blow to the very last asp.' The Guardian ****
‘(…) un suspence haletant, magistralement porté par les formidables comédiens du Toneelgroep Amsterdam. Une formidable leçon de politique. Et de théâtre.’ Le Soir
'A terrifying multimedia show. With this project Ivo van Hove and Jan Versweyveld have written a new and impressive chapter in their ongoing quest for a new theatrical language.' Volkskrant
‘In a totally inartificial manner, a dazzling, contemporary design presents a content that is as old as the hills.’ AD
'An incomparable theatre experience, the theatre of the future: inventive, stimulating the senses, with cutting-edge technology and right in your face. A production that we could already call legendary.’ Elsevier
'Seldom has theatre felt so relevant. Roman Tragedies shows politics as an unstable marriage of personal ambition and national interest. After seeing the production you start discussing and keep discussing.’ De Morgen
'Roman Tragedies is a groundbreaking production for the new millennium in which the stage becomes a total political experience.' De Standaard
Roman Tragedies premiered in June 2007, during the Holland Festival. Van Hove stages three plays by Shakespeare - Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, Antony & Cleopatra – as one continuous performance about the world of politics. The three Roman tragedies reveal the political game in all its facets. Coriolanus takes place during the rise of the Roman Republic. The eponymous hero refuses to submit to the changed political constellation. He defies the masses and their new representatives and is banished. Ultimately he takes up arms against Rome, his own city. Julius Caesar acquires power because, by contrast, he is a virtuoso in manipulating the masses. A number of politicians fear the advent of a dictatorship and remove him in order to save the democracy, but by then it is already too late to reverse the changed political climate. In Antony & Cleopatra, global politics and the passionate love between the Roman Antony and the Egyptian Cleopatra become intertwined. Antony’s inner conflict between public responsibility and his heart’s desire leads to a blood-bath.
The audience is situated in the middle of a political arena in which the production is played out non-stop. The spectators can move freely between the hall, the circle and the stage. There is no fixed intermission but there are a number of shorter breaks. Snacks and drinks are available on the stage throughout the performance. The members of the audience can themselves use multimedia resources to decide which situation they wish to focus on. The duration of the play is five and a half hours, with no intermission. During the performance the audience is invited to walk through the auditorium or onto the stage for another view of the on stage action, or to enjoy food and beverages.