In 1995 the L.A. Theatre Works, with the BBC, co-produced a radio play of JULIUS CAESAR. In the radio version of Shakespeare’s JULIUS CAESAR, James Morrison played Titinius (a friend to Brutus and Cassius) and The Cobbler.

caesar.jpg (59584 bytes) The action begins in February, 44 BC Julius Caesar has just reentered Rome in triumph after a victory in Spain over the sons of his old enemy, Pompey the Great. A spontaneous celebration is interrupted and broken up by Flavius and Marullus, two political enemies of Caesar.

Flavius questions a man on the street, "What trade art thou?"

The man responds, "A trade, sir, that I hope I may use with a safe conscience, which is indeed, sir, a mender of bad soles."

Flavius scolds, "But wherefore art not in thy shop today? Why dost thou lead these men about the streets?"

The Cobbler answers, "Truly, sir, to wear out their shoes, to get myself into more work. But indeed, sir, we make holiday to see Caesar, and to rejoice in his triumph."

It soon becomes apparent from Flavious and Marullus’ words that there are powerful and secret forces working against Caesar. The republican nobility of Rome wants to retain Senate rule, not entertain the whims of one dictator, however popular he may be with the commoners.

Caesar then appears, attended by a train of friends and supporters. Caesar’s authority and eminence are stressed in Casca’s command for all present to remain silent while Caesar speaks. And Antony adds, "When Caesar says ‘Do this,’ it is performed." But during the festivities, Caesar is warned by a Soothsayer to "Beware the Ides of March." Ignoring this warning, Caesar leaves for the games and races marking the celebration of the Feast of Lupercal.

After Caesar’s departure, only two men remain behind -- Marcus Brutus, a close personal friend of Caesar, and Cassius, a longtime political foe of Caesar. Both men are of aristocratic origin and see the end of their ancient privilege in Caesar’s political reforms and conquests.

Envious of Caesar’s power and prestige, Cassius cleverly probes to discover where Brutus’ deepest sympathies lie. As a man of the highest personal integrity, Brutus opposes Caesar’s principles, despite his friendship for him. Cassius cautiously inquires about Brutus’ feelings if a conspiracy were to unseat Caesar. He finds Brutus not altogether against the notion; that is, Brutus shares "some aim" with Cassius, but does not wish "to be any further moved." The two men part, promising to meet again for further discussions.

Soon it is revealed that the conspiracy, which Cassius spoke of in veiled terms to Brutus, is already a reality. Cassius has gathered together a group of disgruntled and discredited aristocrats -- including Casca, recently converted by the manipulative Cassius who played on the formers superstitious nature -- who are only too willing to assassinate Caesar. In part to gain the support of the respectable element of Roman society, Cassius persuades Brutus to head the conspiracy, and Brutus agrees to do so.

Plans are made at a secret meeting in Brutus’ orchard. Redress will be taken on the day known as the "Ides of March," the fifteenth day of the month. Caesar is to be murdered in the Senate chambers by the concealed daggers and swords of the assembled conspirators.

The sun rises; it is the fateful Ides of March. The preceding night has been a strange one -- wild, stormy, and full of unexplained sights and happenings throughout the city of Rome. Caesar’s wife, Calpurnia, terrified by horrible nightmares, begs Caesar not to go to the Capital, convinced that her dreams are portents of disaster.

By prearrangement, Brutus and the other conspirators arrive to accompany Caesar, hoping to fend off any possible warnings until they have him totally in their power at the Senate. Unaware that he is surrounded by assassins, Caesar goes with them.

Despite the conspirators’ best efforts; a warning is pressed into Caesar’s hand on the very steps of the Capitol, but he refuse to read it. Wasting no further time, the conspirators move into action. Purposely asking Caesar for a favor they know he will refuse, they move closer, as if begging a favor. And then, reaching for their hidden weapons they kill him -- the first stab by Casca -- before the shocked eyes of the Senators and spectators.

Hearing of Caesar’s murder, Mark Antony, Caesar’s closest friend, begs permission to speak at Caesar’s funeral. Brutus grants this permission, over the objections of Cassius, and then delivers his own speech first, confident that his words will convince the populace of the necessity for Caesar’s death.

After Brutus leaves, Antony begins to speak. The crowd has been swayed by Brutus’ words, and it is an angry crowd that Antony addresses. Using every oratorical device known, however, Antony turns the audience into a howling mob, screaming for the blood of Caesar’s murderers.

Alarmed by the furor caused by Antony’s speech, the conspirators and their supporters are forced to flee from Rome, and finally from Italy.

Antony -- together with Caesar’s young grandnephew and adopted son, Octavius, and a wealthy banker, Lepidus -- gathers an army to pursue and destroy Caesar’s escaped killers.

Months pass, during which the conspirators and their armies are pursued relentlessly into the far reaches of Asia Minor. When finally they decide to stop at the town of Sardis, Cassius and Brutus make plans to meet the forces of Antony, Octavius and Lepidus in one final battle. Instead of holding to their well-prepared defensive positions, Brutus orders an attack on Antony’s camp on the plains of Philippi.

The battle rages hotly. At first, the conspirators seem to have the advantage, but in the confusion, Cassius becomes mistakenly convinced that all is lost, and he kills himself.

Titinius relates, "Cassius is no more. O setting sun, as in thy red rays thou dost sink tonight, so in his red blood Cassius’ day is set! The sun of Rome is set. Our day is gone, clouds, dews, and dangers come; our deeds are done!" Unable to bear Cassius’ death, Titinius kills himself, "See how I regarded Caius Cassius.... Come, Cassius’ sword, and find Titinius’ heart."

Leaderless, Cassius’ forces are quickly defeated, and Brutus finds himself fighting a hopeless battle. Unable to face the prospect of humiliation and shame as a captive, he too takes his own life.

As the play ends, Antony delivers a eulogy over Brutus’ body, calling him "the noblest Roman of them all." Caesar’s murder has been avenged, order has been restored, and, most important, the Roman Empire has been preserved. Synopsized from notes by James E. Vickers, M.A., for Cliffs Notes, Inc.

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