Imperium: The Cicero Plays

Based on the Cicero Trilogy by Robert Harris

Adapted by Mike Poulton

Reviews of Imperium: The Cicero Plays

Gielgud Theatre, London


'All the panache and pace of a Netflix box set'


'Intricate, absorbing and unfailingly vivid'

★★★★Evening Standard

'The West Wing in blood-soaked togas'


"Strikingly relevant. A must-see drama"

★★★★Financial Times

'The RSC's staging of Robert Harris's novels rolls out with the pace and grip of a political box-set.'

Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon


‘A Roman triumph for the RSC’


‘An exhilarating and timely political drama’


‘Gregory Doran’s production… One of the finest achievements of the Royal Shakespeare Company in recent years’


‘Cicero…is beautifully acted by Richard McCabe in a career-defining performance’


‘A glittering array of performances’


‘Siobhan Redmond excellently shows the hidden steel of Terentia, while Eloise Secker, as both Clodia and Fulvia, suggests that…vengeful rage is not the property of any particular gender’


‘This is a tremendous show that…takes us to the heart of ancient Rome’


‘Gregory Doran’s production of Poulton’s colossal version of Harris’ three-novel epic covers itself with its own kind of glory… the sheer scale of the enterprise inspires awe’


‘Poulton’s…customary combination of verbal dexterity, clear storytelling and hefty doses of leavening wit only serves to accentuate the brilliance of the undertaking’


‘Anthony Ward’s stunning re-crafting of The Swan… and some perfectly judged lighting and music from Mark Henderson and Paul Englishby respectively add drama and nuance to the spectacle’


‘Peter de Jersey stands out as an ambitious, wily Julius Caesar, while Pierro Niel-Mee offers two impressive characterisations’


‘The whole extensive ensemble plays crucial parts in unfolding the vast canvas intelligibly and with a relentless drive to entertain’


‘At the heart of these two shows is a double act that thoroughly deserves their standing ovation… Richard McCabe and Joseph Kloska play Cicero and his secretary with a joyous complementary verve, sparking off each other explosively’


‘It’s an extraordinary feat by both actors… their roles carry the productions on a wave of confidence, bravado and performing fireworks. If they aren’t in line to share some best actor awards over the next few months, then there’ll have been a serious miscarriage of justice’


‘The RSC and Mike Poulton here repeat their trick of turning fictional accounts of historical power games into plain-speaking, propulsive, epic theatre’


‘Gregory Doran’s poised, witty, beautifully acted productions’


'A masterly performance by Richard McCabe... a beautifully judged Cicero'


'Siobhan Redmond makes an intelligent, stalwart Terentia'


‘Richard McCabe gives a superb central performance’


‘Master-adapter, Mike Poulton…excels again’


‘Dynamic epic theatre…presented with terrific energy and clarity by Gregory Doran’s production’


‘Joe Dixon is disturbingly enraged as Catiline and then magnetically wild and dangerous as Antony'


‘Peter de Jersey’s extraordinary portrayal’


‘Apart from a few lines in Caesar, Shakespeare ignores this great statesman almost completely. Putting him centre-stage for fascinating epic, the Royal Shakespeare Company is handsomely redressing the balance.’

★★★★sunday times

'Richard McCabe commands the day as Cicero'

sunday times

'Gregory Doran's smooth production occupies an elegant, unchanging set by Anthony Ward'

★★★★daily mail

'Mike Poulton's two-part adaptation of Harris's trilogy of novels for the RSC is remarkable'

daily mail

'A nimble performance by Richard McCabe'

daily mail

'An understated but exquisite performance from Oliver Johnstone'

daily mail

'Gregory Doran's production handles the dense politics with a light touch'

daily mail

'A hugely impressive accomplishment'

★★★★Evening standard

‘McCabe ensures that he’s engaging and complex, a potent and authoritative figure who’s nonetheless capable of appearing fragile’

evening standard

‘Joe Dixon is sinister as Cataline and then furiously blunt as Mark Antony’

evening standard

‘Crisp work from Oliver Johnstone and John Dougall, and in this very male environment Eloise Secker makes a strong impression as crafty courtesan Clodia and politically adroit Fulvia’

evening standard

‘The revelation is Joseph Kloska as the slave Tiro… he brings an air of half-appalled candour and confidentiality to the role, and relishes several of Poulton’s best lines’

evening standard

‘Poulton writes short, vivid scenes…Anthony Ward’s design is dominated by a giant ball suspended over the stage, which glows or shimmers in keeping with the story’s mood’

★★★★The Stage

‘Poulton’s adaptation expertly condenses and makes clear all the complex machinations and power plays… it’s quite a feat’

The Stage

‘In the demanding central role of Cicero, Richard McCabe is incredibly engaging, quick of mind and tongue, but also alert to Cicero’s flaws’

The Stage

‘Joseph Kloska’s Tiro manages to have a gentle watchful presence … the two have a nice rapport’

The Stage

‘Peter de Jersey makes a forceful Caesar’

The Stage

‘Pierro Niel-Mee puts in two brilliantly different performances as the charismatic Patrician Clodius and the steely Agrippa’

The Stage

‘Oliver Johnstone is unsettlingly collected as Caesar’s young heir Octavian’

Financial Times

‘Harris and Poulton’s Cicero, as portrayed by the ever-admirable Richard McCabe, is not unlike a Shakespearean tragic hero’

Daily Telegraph

‘All hail Oliver Johnstone, a major find … a blistering oratory pupil in Part I then an inscrutable, all-conquering Octavian in Part II’