Video has emerged of the graphic, onstage stabbing of the Donald Trump-inspired Julius Caesar character in the latest “Shakespeare in the Park” production in New York City’s Central Park.
Inside Edition posted the video on its website Wednesday. The brief clip shows Caesar (actor Gregg Henry) bearing a striking resemblance to the president in a business suit, tie and slicked blonde hair, as he is brutally stabbed by his associates in the Senate.
The “contemporary” take on the Shakespeare classic — which opened May 23 and will run until June 18 at Central Park’s Delacorte Theater — has sparked controversy for its portrayal of the mock assassination of the president.
“To be honest I thought it was shocking and distasteful,” Laura Shaeffer, who caught a performance of the play, told Mediaite this week. “If this had happened to any other president — even as recently as Barack Obama or George W. Bush — it would not have flown. People would have been horrified.”
“I don’t love President Trump, but he’s the president. You can’t assassinate him on a stage,” she added.
The play reportedly makes a number of references to Trump, though it does not refer to the president by name. Caesar’s wife Calpurnia (actress Tina Benko) reportedly speaks with a Slavic accent similar to that of First Lady Melania Trump, while Caesar himself is shown tweeting from a bathtub.
The Trump-like Caesar character is also reportedly shown fully naked onstage; the website for the Public Theater-produced play cautions that it contains “violence, nudity, and live gunshot sounds” in addition to the use of strobe lights and haze effects.
“Julius Caesar is about how fragile democracy is,” director Oskar Eustis wrote in a letter on the play’s website. “The institutions that we have grown up with, that we have inherited from the struggle of many generations of our ancestors, can be swept away in no time at all.”
Watch the video of the stabbing scene above.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum