This is certainly a major theatrical event — Cicero’s speeches, with their mixture of sarcasm and idealism, are great, but not everyone will enjoy the comic interpretation of some of these characters, and the storytelling does get a bit bogged down in the second part.
First seen at the RSC last winter, Mike Poulton’s adaptation of Robert Harris’ Cicero novels have a suitably epic feel to them and, anchored by an excellent lead performance from Richard McCabe, also have a real thrill factor.
The life of an extraordinary man living through an extraordinary age is too large for one play, and here the latter two novels of Robert Harris’ Cicero trilogy are adapted into two separate plays (Conspirator and Dictator).
Imperium II: Dictator continues a compelling look at (Roman) politics at the Gielgud Theatre but I do feel obliged to point out just how male-heavy the piece skews.
Murder, ambition, back-stabbing and sex. Politics is a dirty business but never less than thrilling in Mike Poulton’s Imperium, his terrific adaptation of Robert Harris’s Cicero Trilogy.
Richard McCabe as Cicero is a marvellous creation: a man risen from lowly beginnings through sheer intelligence and lawyerly eloquence, his genuine belief in the Republic and horror of autocracy fading sometimes endearingly into pomposity; his political gift for expediency always at war with his real principles.