Sejanus: His Fall

Previewed 17 January 2006, opened 18 January 2006, closed 28 January 2006 at the Trafalgar Studios in London

"Blush not, Sejanus, thou great aid of Rome, Let us not force thy simple modesty. With off'ring at thy praise." Sejanus His Fall Act I Scene iii

The Emperor Tiberius raises a statue to honour Sejanus, unaware that his right hand man is ruthlessly working his way to the top, destroying everyone in his path. No one can stop him, but his fall is inevitable.

Sejanus: His Fall was written by Ben Jonson. This production for The Royal Shakespeare Company is directed by Gregory Doran and was previously seen at The Swan Theatre in Stratford-Upon-Avon during the 2005 Festival Season.

"Gregory Doran and his RSC sub-company combine dramatic momentum with clarity... From time to time the verse gets richer, more intense, reminding you that Jonson was about to write Volpone. You also feel that the dramatist takes a certain relish in Sejanus's own jubilant excesses, which here include surreptitious buggery that hastily ends when the emperor enters saying: 'Is yet Sejanus come?' But there is no denying that, apart from Barry Stanton's sly, devious Tiberius, the role Shakespeare allegedly played, the rest of the characterisation is thin, obvious. Jonson was a wonderfully robust comic writer but, as Sejanus: His Fall inadvertently suggests, not a great tragedian." The Times

"Doran's vision for Sejanus proves that Jonson's 1603 play has more to offer than dry classical politics and marble-cold historical reconstruction. In fact, there is so much dynamic plotting and conspiratorial rushing about that those in the aisle seats could catch a chill from the draft of all those togas gusting past... Jonson's play is a serious, sobering take on the structures of power - those who have it, those who want it those who are utterly impotent - but Doran is unafraid to bolster the play with the kind of florid detail post-I Claudius audiences expect from their Roman capers." The Sunday Times

"Nowadays it's only each other's characters that we expect our leaders to assassinate, but in ancient Rome, politicians were happy to put the knife in for real. One such assassin is the hero of Ben Jonson's tragedy, Sejanus, a military commander vying to oust Caesar. As a historical commentary on dynastic power struggles in ancient Rome compared with Elizabethan England, it is fascinating. But as drama it is psychologically disengaging... However, Gregory Doran's togas-and-sandals RSC production doesn't drag for want of toil. He tarts up the stony-faced drama with colourful ceremonial splashes involving chanting vestal virgins. There is also a diverting collection of murmuring senators led by Geoffrey Freshwater and Nigel Cooke. They remind you of disaffected Labour backbenchers, but overall it leaves you feeling like today's electorate: apathetic." The Mail on Sunday

Sejanus in London at the Trafalgar Studios previewed from 17 January 2006, opened on 18 January 2006 and closed on 28 January 2006