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Ryan Recommends: Conversations in Tusculum

By: Ryan Quinn

Nelson, Richard – Conversations in Tusculum

You may remember Richard Nelson from writing the book for the Broadway musical Chess, but this couldn’t be further removed from it. Conversations in Tusculum is a two-act play about the conversations Brutus, Cassius, and Cicero had before deciding to kill Caesar. Beautifully written, and full of potential monologues, if the character suits. I really loved it, but the reviewers seemed to think it was too cyclical and the characters did not undergo enough changes to keep the attention of the audience. However, that’s what struck me about it. It’s an exploration of the rationale that goes into an act of extreme violence, but it does not give the audience an easy out by letting the act take place onstage. It’s certainly worth reading as an insight into the motivations of the conspirators alone, but the philosophical significance of what the characters discuss is simply breathtaking at times. Cicero especially, who we are likely to initially dismiss as being not as important as Brutus or Cassius, delivers speeches that really resonate through to our time. I’d love to see a production of it in Toronto, but until then, give it a read, I doubt you’ll be disappointed.

2008 – 4 Males, 2 Females

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