Bogan Shakespeare take on Caesar is comedy gold

22 January 2022

For its seventh Fringe World season, the Bogan Shakespeare gang tackles Shakespeare’s most overrated play and gives it the DIY makeover it so richly deserves, says David Zampatti.

Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Julius Caesar, BS Productions ·
Studio Underground @ State Theatre Centre of WA, 21 January, 2022 ·

Caesar Schmeezer. Never liked the thing. It’s okay early, though a bit of a pantomime – “Beware the Ides of March” is Shakespeare’s version of “He’s behind you!” – and who doesn’t like a good old-fashioned stabbing? But once Marc Antony winds up his Big Speech, it really runs out of puff. If ever a play needed to be re-set at a Bunnings store in Busselton and given the Bogan Shakespeare treatment, this was it.

Jewlz Caesar (Dean Lovatt) is one of several department managers at the store, but when a couple of suits from head office tell him on the QT that there’s a restructure coming and he’s in line for manager of the whole shebang – the king, so to speak – his head spins with ambition (for a bit, I thought I was watching Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Macbeth, but no matter).

Jewlz is a bit bumbling, a lot weak and a whole lot two-faced, an insipid version of Ricky Gervais’s David Brent, but he hardly deserves to die for it.

Too bad. His “team” – the sinister Cassius (Jess Lally), the gullible Brutus (Harrison Mitchell) and the downright psychopathic Casca (Maiken Kruger) – decides he must be terminated with extreme prejudice, and there’s plenty of merchandise at the store to commit it with. Stab stab stab stab – with what looked like the popular Cuisinart utility knife ($19.95).

All of which is bad news for Jewlz’s mate Antony (Sarah Courtis), who jumped up to tell the staff of Caesar’s plans for their benefit … and so on. Things go badly for Cassius and Brutus, who find themselves surrounded by Antony’s forces armed with Ryobi ONE+ 18v whipper-snippers ($119). Regaled by Jewlz’s ghost, they end up falling on the stakes of each other’s Waxworks 180cm bamboo torches ($4.95).

A woman from Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Julius Caesar dressed in Bunnings uniform holds a paint roller like a weapon.
Plenty of merchandise to choose from for Casca (Maiken Kruger). Photo: David Cox Media

The Bogan Shakespeare gang has achieved a rare feat (the comedian Dr Ahmed might be the only other example). With tenacity, good marketing and a keen sense of what works for an audience out for a good time and some laughs, they’ve built themselves into a perennial Fringe World powerhouse.

That’s not to dismiss the quality of the work. Their scripts are tight and acute, their performances full of life and appealing self-awareness, their cultural literacy – whether it’s Shakespeare or corporate chicanery – is spot on and the whole package is really, really funny.

And, not to be underestimated in a world where you don’t always know what you’re in for, they are as constant as the northern star.

Disclosure: David Zampatti owns a few Wesfarmers shares and a Ryobi cordless electric lawnmower ($329) from Bunnings. Lowest prices are just the beginning.

Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Julius Caesar is in the State Theatre Centre of WA until 29 January 2022.

Pictured top is Dean Lovatt as Jewlz Caesar. Photo: David Cox Media

Image from Bogan Shakespeare Presents: Julius Caesar. Pictured is a blackboard says "WE CAME WE SAW WE BEAT IT BY 10%". A man wearing a checked shirt and Shakespearean ruff is walking away, his back to us.
Photo: David Cox Media

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Author —
David Zampatti

David Zampatti has been a student politician, a band manager, the Freo Dockers’ events guy, a bar owner in California, The West Australian’s theatre critic and lots of other crazy stuff. He goes to every show he’s reviewing with the confident expectation it will be the best thing he’s ever seen.

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