By Peter Diamond

‘I don’t care what you’re doing at the moment, stop it. If you’re sitting down, stand up ...’  This was the fabled Alan Green, BBC Sports commentator, at the rowing finals in Beijing four years ago unable to suppress his excitement as Redgrave and his crew crossed the line for their historic gold medal.

I can’t say that now about the Oddsocks theatre group whose performance of ‘Julius Caesar’ you may have missed at Whitbourne Hall last Thursday evening – but that’s how I felt about it.
To describe the two hours as respectful anarchy would be both paradoxical and true. This team of five worked their way through this challenging and, frankly rather heavy text, with a sharp eye for every comic opportunity, exquisitely timed and energetically delivered. 

The audience loved it, the ad libs, the double entendres, the double takes and the exploitation of a minimal stage machinery that was handled with huge skill. It was all such fun. ‘Julius Caesar?’ Shakespeare’s ‘Julius Caesar?’    Fun? The brilliance of this production lay in its freshness – and this group, remarkably are on the road together week after week, pitching their almost makeshift set at a new venue almost every night – and sheer energy. It was infectious. But the unique trick which they pulled off quite remarkably was retaining, through all the jokes and apparent irreverence, the spirit of the original text.

And it really was Shakespeare. I have rarely heard Mark Anthony’s crafty public eulogy over the body of the slaughtered Caesar given with such clarity and good sense – and this despite the bizarre model of the bloody corpse at his feet. That mixture of sheer absurdity and respect was the hallmark of the sixteenth century theatre. Oddsocks got it absolutely right. You may have missed them this time. Make sure you see them here at Whitboune next year.   Bring a picnic, bring your friends and get ready to laugh and to admire.