Photo by Scott Suchman
Nero is perhaps most well known as the Emperor of Rome who let the city burn as he played the fiddle. A widely known piece of history that isn’t entirely true yet perfectly paints a portrait of a ruler who cared more about himself than his people. The vanity of Nero could easily be compared to others in history- from Napoleon to today’s mega-celebrities and athletes.
Danny Scheie steals every scene as the self-absorbed ruler of the early Roman empire in Arena Stage’s production of You, Nero. From the moment Scheie enters the stage we feel Nero’s ginormous presence fill every inch of the Finchandler Stage. In a fitting moment of irony one of his first lines to the audience is a woeful, “Poor me!”
Of course we take less pity on him and more laughter as we take-in Nero’s over the top appreciation for himself.
Despite a fantastic job by Jeff McCarthy in the role of Scribonius, a role McCarthy took on only days before the opening, he is simply a guide through this hilarious send-up of ancient Rome. The real star is Nero and Scheie reprises the role he first performed in early West Coast productions with panache, pizzazz, and flamboyance.