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Justice Theater Project's Julius Caesar 

As much as I hate to admit it, sometimes rude audiences have a point. Yes, the high schoolers behind us at opening night of Justice Theater Project's Julius Caesar sporadically shared their conversations (and iPhone consultations) during the first act.

Still, they—and the rest of us—were pindrop-still at its most arresting moments. All of us were silenced, not only by Jade Arnold's oration as Marc Antony at Caesar's funeral, but his character's ever-so-delicate negotiations with the men who'd done him in, lead by a striking Brian Fisher as Marcus Brutus and Jeremy Fiebig as Cassius. (The reason for such delicacy? In this production, that gang still held in their hands the knives, since they might yet need for more blood work.) And we all leaned in as that same murder of crows (including a brooding David Hudson and Tanner Lagasca) met at the house of Marcus Brutus in the pre-dawn hours of the Ides of March.

Director David Henderson has connected a number of imaginative, improbable otherworlds in a series of Shakespeare productions over the years. But this time out, too many actors who don't convince us populate the supporting parts, while John Honeycutt's work in the title role remains too far within his comfort zone to clearly distinguish itself from his previous performances on stage.

As usual, grownups in the audience hid their disengagement more discreetly. But the children who clearly let us know when they didn't—and did—believe the work on stage served an improbably diagnostic function in Raleigh.

This article appeared in print with the headline "There will be blood."

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