Monday, June 14, 2010

Julius Caesar, Act I - a summary

Act I

It's all about the scene-setting and foreshadowing. Seriously. Named characters being introduced for the first time are italicized.

Scene 1

Marullus and Flavius: Yo. 'sup, commoners?

Commoner 1: I am a carpenter!

Commoner 2: I am a mender of soles. I am concerned with awl. Allow me to amuse/abuse you with a lot more shoe/religion puns.

Marullus and Flavius: You commoners used to cheer for Pompey and now you're down with his adversary, Caesar? Fie! Now run along, while we go denude the decorated statues in this here town.


Scene 2

Caesar: Hey, Antony (no, he is not speaking like Sly Stallone, but if you prefer to think of it that way, who am I to stop you?) Be sure to touch my woman on your way by, so's I can knock her up later. Because obviously if we aren't procreating, it's all on her. Because I said so.

Antony: Um, okay.

Soothsayer: BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH!

Caesar: Say what?

Brutus: The soothsayer says BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH!

Caesar: Bring the soothsayer forward. Soothsayer, what did you say again?

Soothsayer: BEWARE THE IDES OF MARCH! *mumbles something about stupid inattentive near-deaf people in high places*

Exit Caesar, laughing at the silly soothsayer.

Whereupon Cassius and Brutus have a private chat.

Brutus: I'm a bit mopey and unhappy. Also, I worry that the people want to make Caesar their king.

Cassius: Caesar is a weakling. Let me count the ways . . .

Enter Caesar and his entourage.

Caesar: That Cassius guy over there looks like he's plotting against me. He's obviously dangerous because (hand to God, this is what he says) "He reads much", but he doesn't like plays and music, so obviously, he's dangerous.

Antony: Don't fear the Reaper Cassius.

Everyone leaves but Casca, Brutus and Cassius. And yes, all the C names get messy in the abstract.

Brutus: What was all the cheering about?

Casca: Antony offered him the crown three times, and each time Caesar pushed it away, although with a bit less energy every time. And then he had a seizure in the middle of the marketplace. He was upset when he figured out that the crowd didn't want him to take the crown, but after his seizure, some of the nearby women were nice to him.

Cassius: Did Cicero say anything?

Casca: Yep. But he spoke Greek.

Cassius: To what effect?

Casca: Those that understood him smiled, but it was all Greek to me. (Actual line: "but, for mine own part, it was Greek to me.") P.S. Marullus and Flavius from Scene 1 are in Big Trouble. Casca out!

Brutus: Okay, Cassius - we'll talk tomorrow. TTFN.

Cassius: *twirls his mustache a la Dick Dastardly*

Mwahaha, Brutus, I see what mettle/metal you are made from, and you are mine to toy with. I'll chuck a few notes through your windows tonight saying how great everyone thinks you are, and how everyone thinks Caesar wants to be king.


Scene 3

*Thunder and lightning in the street*

Cicero (*skipping in a Greek sort of way*): Hullo, Casca! How's things?

Casca: There is a terrible tempest. A tempest like in The Tempest! ALSO: Portents are flippin' EVERYWHERE! People on fire who do not burn. Lions who don't attack people. A night bird out in the middle of the day - it's like the opening of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's/Philosopher's Stone, with owls EVERYWHERE! "Dogs and cats, living together - real wrath of God stuff" (to foreshadow the Ghostbusters).

Cicero: Yeah, that's weird. I guess. So . . . is Caesar coming to the Capitol tomorrow?

Casca: Um, yes.

Cicero: Get inside. It's bad weather out. *exit Cicero/enter Cassius*

Casca: Isn't this a horrible night?

Cassius: Say what? I've been spinning about in the middle of the marketplace singing "The hills are alive with the Sound of Music".

Casca: Dude why would you tempt fate like that? *mutters something about how Cassius should have been singing "If I Only Had a Brain"* You're supposed to bow to the gods. DUH!

Cassius: Grow a pair, Casca. Also:

. . . You look pale and gaze
And put on fear and cast yourself in wonder,
To see the strange impatience of the heavens:
But if you would consider the true cause
Why all these fires, why all these gliding ghosts,
Why birds and beasts from quality and kind,
Why old men fool and children calculate,
Why all these things change from their ordinance
Their natures and preformed faculties
To monstrous quality,--why, you shall find
That heaven hath infused them with these spirits,
To make them instruments of fear and warning
Unto some monstrous state.
Now could I, Casca, name to thee a man
Most like this dreadful night,
That thunders, lightens, opens graves, and roars
As doth the lion in the Capitol,
A man no mightier than thyself or me
In personal action, yet prodigious grown
And fearful, as these strange eruptions are.
*Time out to point out that the reference to eruptions is a double entendre to do with outbursts as well as venereal disease*

Casca: It's Caesar, right?

Cassius: It is who it is. Romans' bodies are hearty, but "our fathers' minds are dead,/And we are govern'd with our mothers' spirits;/Our yoke and sufferance show us womanish." [KRF: Oh no he di-in't!]

Casca: They say that Caesar will be crowned king tomorrow.

Cassius: Then I'll kill myself. If Caesar is king, then the gods have chosen to make the weak strong, and those of us who are strong must, er, kill ourselves. Nobly. I can throw off tyranny by dying!

Casca: Me too!

Cassius: *Ooh - it's like Emily Dickinson is going to say, in her poem "I'm Nobody, who are you? Are you nobody too? Then there's a pair of us!"* The only reason Caesar is being lionized (pun intended) is because Rome is so weak. Caesar is the king of garbage. "Bow to the queen of slime, the queen of filth, the queen of putrescence! Boo. Boo. Rubbish. Filth. Slime. Muck. Boo." Oh, heck - maybe you're a loyal bondsman, in which case we will have to fight.

Casca: I'm no tattletale.

Cassius: Good news. I'm in the middle of a takeover plot. You in? By the way, here's yet another guy who's name starts with a C - it's Cinna, and he's part of the plot.

Cinna: Hey, I've been looking for you. The other plotters are all waiting for you.

Cassius: Here - go cause trouble for Brutus to soften him up.

Casca:
O, he sits high in all the people's hearts:
And that which would appear offence in us,
His countenance, like richest alchemy,
Will change to virtue and to worthiness.
Cassius & Casca leave, talking about getting Brutus on their side before dawn.

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