July 4, 2004

Caesar salad days

After attending and enjoying Rufus Wainwright and Kate McGarrigle’s performance at the Royal Festival Hall last month, I was wandering around the South Bank, wondering what other shows I might be able to take in to exploit more fully London’s cultural richness. I came across a flyer for a new season at the RSC and was surprised to find that they were staging one of Shakespeare’s lesser-known works, Acerbia and Pixopatra. I didn’t recall this as part of the Shakespearian canon and was lucky enough to find the following plot summary online:
Following Caesar’s assassination, Acerbia, Londonmarkus Caesar and Petedotnuus are the joint rulers of the known world. Acerbia, however, is captivated by Queen Pixopatra, and is neglecting his military responsibilities to spend time with her at her court in Archway, where they live a life of luxury and self-indulgence. This scandal is now the talk of Camden and has created a dangerous rift between Acerbia and young Londonmarkus Caesar.
The power of the triumvirate is being challenged and Acerbia is forced to return to Camden and resume his responsibilities. When it is suggested that he should cement the alliance with Londonmarkus by marrying his sister, Acerbia agrees. His friend and comrade-in-arms Enobobbieus, however, predicts that Acerbia will not be able to break with Pixopatra. Back in Archway, the news of Acerbia’s marriage sends Pixopatra into a jealous tirade.
On the brink of war, Acerbia and Londonmarkus make peace and celebrate the treaty with a picnic on faraway Primrose Hill. Shortly afterwards, however, Acerbia learns that not only has Londonmarkus commenced battle, but he has also spoken scornfully of Acerbia in public and has had Petedotnuus imprisoned on dubious carpentry charges. Acerbia sends Londonmarkus’ sister back to negotiate with her brother while he returns secretly to Archway.
News arrives in Camden that Acerbia and Pixopatra have crowned themselves king and queen in Archway. Acerbia’s desertion of Londonmarkus’ sister is the final straw. Londonmarkus declares war on Archway, whose forces lose a major sea-battle when Acerbia deserts to follow Pixopatra’s fleeing ship. Acerbia is consumed with shame and despair. However, hearing that Londonmarkus has offered to make a secret treaty with Pixopatra he rouses himself for a second, victorious battle.
On the eve of the third battle, Acerbia’s soldiers are nervous and fear bad omens. In the event, his fleet surrenders and Acerbia, in his fury, accuses Pixopatra of betraying him to Londonmarkus. She retreats from him and sends a false report that she is dead. On hearing this, Acerbia attempts suicide and is brought to Pixopatra’s monument to die in her arms. Rather than be captured and enslaved by the Camdenites, Pixopatra also kills herself, using a poisonous snake brought to her concealed in a some rolls of film. With all his enemies eliminated, Londonmarkus returns victorious to Camden.
Interesting, I thought to myself, and such a compelling victor. I tried to book tickets only to find that the three-seat venue had been booked solid for months and that the box office was not hopeful that I would be able to get any returns. eBay proved equally fruitless, and I can only hope that someday this wonderful play will be restaged.


3 thoughts on “Caesar salad days

  1. Damn you. How did you find out where I keep my asp?
    Art thou a peeping londonmarkus?

    pixopatra on July 5, 2004
  2. I’ve noticed him checking out your asp before, Pix.

    Karen on July 5, 2004

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