This is in many ways a polished production but with most of the action set away from the battle fields it does start to feel like you are a spectator at a very long chess game.
According to chat in the toilet queue, when Boris Johnson came to see Imperium he commented to a member of staff that he'd come to see real politicians - or words to that effect. (Edit 10/7: Did the play inspire his recent metaphorical stabbing of Theresa May in the back?)
Richard McCabe and Peter De Jersey in the RSC's Imperium, Gielgud Theatre. Photo: Manuel Harlan
Given what unfolds in Imperium I: Conspirator and Imperium II: Dictator namely the deplorable display of ego and power lust it doesn't feel like it contrasts too greatly with the current UK political landscape.
Technically two stand-alone plays, Conspirator and Dictator tell the story of Cicero (Richard McCabe) a lawyer turned politician during the rise and fall of Julius Caesar (Peter de Jersey).
There are running gags and a continuity of characters with narrative arcs that thread through the two plays so I'm not sure how Dictator would stand up if you saw it in isolation.
Based on Robert Harris' Cicero novels, the story is told by Tiro (a charming Joseph Kloska) Cicero's sensible assistant and biographer.
He breaks the fourth wall drawing you along with amusing observations and recaps.
Conspirator follows Cicero's rise against all the odds. He is from a relatively humble background compared to his political peers but is clever, quick thinking and a skilled orator.
His wife Terentia (Siobhan Redmond) is wealthy and supports his ambitions.
He is a family man, dotes on his daughter Tullia (Jade Croot) and wants to ensure democracy endures and is corruption-free.
Noble aims but challenging in an environment where power and status are everything and money can easily sway.
Julius Caesar appears to be a man of the people but Cicero sees through him, sees his dangerous hunger for ultimate power.
A political battle to stop his rise ensues, a chess-like game of moves and counter moves always trying to stay one step ahead of each other.
Cicero teeters on the edge of righteous bore, blinkered by his goals and past successes but by the end of Conspirator he has failed to stop Caesar and past decisions come back to haunt him.