Monday, January 26, 2009

23 Knives - CSI: Ancient Rome?

I saw this blurb about a play written about Julius Caesar's autopsy and couldn't help but wish I could take a quick trip to New York to see it!

"The mission of Resonance Ensemble is to present classic plays in conjunction with modern plays inspired by them. This season they change things up a bit, by presenting George Bernard Shaw's classic Caesar and Cleopatra along with the premiere of Christopher Boal's 23 Knives; both plays are inspired by Shakespeare's works.

23 Knives is based on the real-life figure of Antistius (Patrick Melville), whose only surviving record in history is of having been the man to perform the autopsy of Julius Caesar after he was assassinated, and who presented his findings as testimony in front of the Roman forum (from which comes our term "forensics").

Boals spins an amusingly modern take on the piece- at times it feels much like an episode of CSI:Ancient Rome. In his version of events, Marcus Antonius (Ryan Tramont) has chosen Antistius for the job of discovering which of the many stab wounds actually killed Caesar, because Antistius had won a court case by getting a murderer acquitted. But, unbeknownst to Marcus Antonius, Antistius is a fraud- a Greek who, pretending to be a physician, came to Rome when Caesar gave an edict to allow knowledgeable Greek physicians room to live there. With the help of his slave Janus (Todd Alan Crain), he sets about actually performing a real autopsy, supervised in part by Musa (Brian D. Coats), another slave who actually knows something about medicine, or so it seems. Like any good con man in fiction, Antistius begins to take on the nobler qualities of the character he pretends to be, beginning to feel a duty to the truth, and when he discovers unsettling evidence of even fouler play than anticipated, won't lie to the forum in accordance with the official story Marcus Antonius would like to have spread." - Broadway World
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