In many ways, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar (almost certainly 1599) is a director’s rather than an actor’s play. While there have been brilliant performances associated with it – from Marlon Brando and John Gielgud to Ben Whishaw and our own Robyn Nevin – it is really the directors who make sense of it on stage, and have moulded its politics to suit the times. John Philip Kemble and William Charles Macready defined the play in the nineteenth century, with elaborately realistic sets and massive crowds, emphasising Brutus as a revolutionary figure. Orson Welles swept all aside with his fascist-inflected production for New York’s Mercury Theatre in 1937, brutalist and starkly modern. Australian audiences witnessed a terrifically lean 1996 Melbourne Theatre Company production directed by Simon Phillips, which repurposed the play as a taut political thriller, besuited and full of television screens. And Kip Williams brought the play into the age of social media in his 2021 production for Sydney Theatre Company. Now Richard Murphet tackles the most infamous conspirators in history for Melbourne Shakespeare Company, and the result is thoughtful and nuanced, deeply troubling and occasionally electric.