Shakespeare in the Park began its summer season in New York City’s Central Park last month with a “contemporary” take on the playwright’s Julius Caesar, in which the title character bears a not-so-subtle resemblance to President Donald Trump.
In an interview with Mediaite, Laura Shaeffer — who saw a recent performance of the play, which opened May 23 — said that the character of Julius Caesar in the Public Theater adaptation wears a business suit and has his hair styled in a manner similar to Trump’s.
Sheaffer added that the character of Calpurnia, Caesar’s wife, speaks with a “Slavic accent” similar to that of First Lady Melania Trump.
As happens at the end of the original play, the (Trump-inspired) Caesar is brutally stabbed to death by his associates in the Senate. Sheaffer said Caesar’s death scene was particularly graphic, with blood “spewing everywhere,” and an American flag hanging overhead.
“To be honest I thought it was shocking and distasteful,” Shaeffer told Mediaite. “If this had happened to any other president — even as recently as Barack Obama or George W. Bush — it would not have flown. People would have been horrified.”
The Trump connection in the Oskar Eustis-directed production was not intended to be subtle, though the president is reportedly never referred to by name during the show.
The actor playing Caesar, Gregg Henry (who also happened to play a caricature of Trump in Shonda Rhimes’ ABC show Scandal), told Backstage in an interview last month that while the similarities between the Roman general and the current president don’t always align exactly, there was still much to be gleaned from Trump’s presidency and then injected into his portrayal of Caesar.