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Some major regional companies are only just starting to put together and roll out streaming-video virtual seasons. Among them is the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, one of the leading classical companies on the West Coast. OSF’s three auditoriums include a 1,200-seat open-air Elizabethan replica theater and two smaller indoor houses, and the many imaginatively staged shows I’ve seen there and praised here range include a creatively updated “Hamlet,” a non-traditionally cast “Music Man,” and the 2015 world premiere of Lynn Nottage’s “Sweat.”
Now OSF is finally getting into the webcasting business—but not with a newly staged show. Instead, the company has put online a 2017 production of “Julius Caesar” directed in its medium-size indoor house by Shana Cooper, a greatly talented artist who staged for the Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival in 2018 the best “Taming of the Shrew” I’ve ever seen. Given the combined track records of Ms. Cooper and OSF, it would have been reasonable to expect something distinguished from her this time around. Alas, this “Julius Caesar,” which transferred to New York’s Theater for a New Audience in 2019 for a month-long run, is a disappointment, a conceptual production whose underlying concept is tenuous to the point of unintelligibility and which is acted in a competent but largely lackluster manner by a 19-person ensemble.
The biggest problem, however, is the photography. This appears to be a one-camera, single-take archival video that was never intended for public viewing…
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