So far, theater productions put together to honor the visit of the First Folio of Shakespeare to the Portland Public Library have focused on the tragedies. Bare Portland is finishing up a run of an abbreviated “Macbeth” staged in St. Luke’s Cathedral, and there are a couple of productions of “King Lear” in the offing.

Portland’s Pie Man Theatre has now weighed in with a haunting, full-length take of “The Tragedy of Julius Caesar,” staged three-quarters in the round at the Mayo Street Arts Center in Portland.

Josh Brassard, who is directing the production with Stephanie Ross, saw the play’s universal themes of resentment, ambition and jealousy, as well as love, particularly relevant to the times in which we live. He gave the play a contemporary look and centered this adaptation around an examination of the forces, within and without, that can lead people astray and how things can quickly get out of hand.

A strong cast, led by Brassard as Brutus, lays out the familiar story of a conspiracy to assassinate Caesar. The grumblings of Cassius, played by Mary Randall, find welcoming ears in Brutus and a handful of others. When the deed is done, repercussions follow as Mark Antony, played by Ella Mock, eloquently turns the citizenry against the killers and sets events in motion that lead to their downfall.

The lead roles are all ably handled, with Mock particularly engaging in her impassioned oratory about the “honorable man” Brutus. Brassard modulates his performance as Brutus so that his angry, anguished outcries in the later scenes strike hard, if too late for his character, who is always “at war with himself.”

Randall’s Cassius, emphasizing a reflective side, confirms the sense that this adaptation is as much about pitiable shortcomings as it is about arrogant mischief. The wasted wisdom of wives is well-emphasized in the keen performances of Mary Fraser as Portia and Jessica Rogers as Calpurnia. Beth Somerville shows her Caesar to be commanding, if a little behind the curve as to the political atmosphere of his time. If he “disjoins remorse from power,” he is not alone, heralds this production.

Among the other players, Megan E. Tripaldi, Adam Ferguson and Patricia Mew fill multiple roles in scenes well arranged to take advantage of various entry and exit points. Use of the space’s balconies and small raised stage areas help to suggest the authoritarian bent of the times and a few lighting effects, such as during the appearance of Caesar’s ghost, lend dramatic power.

Brassard and Ross have almost everyone dressed in black shirts, pants, vests and hoodies. Wrist and arm bands designate status and station. No actual blades are shown and the blood is indicated by red ribbons and lingering stains on the faces of the principal conspirators. The relative youthfulness and mixed gender of the cast adds to a sense that the action of the play speaks to this moment.

Audience members can decide whether and to what extent this play helps clarify their understanding of current events. Shakespeare’s power to inspire this new production may provide a clue.

Steve Feeney is a freelance writer who lives in Portland.