Stratford upon Avon.
ROMEO AND JULIET
Courtyard Theatre in rep to 27 August 2010.
Mon-Sat 7.15pm Mat 1pm
Audio-described 28 May, 3 July 1pm.
Captioned 29 April 7.15pm.
Runs 3hr 20min One interval.
TICKETS: 0844 800 1110.
Review: Jan Pick 18 March.
A Romeo to die for.
At last, something to celebrate from the RSC. This Romeo and Juliet, directed by Rupert Goold, is swift-paced, exciting and well-acted. It trusts its playwright and allows the story to emerge without too many gimmicks and heavily underscored hints at relevance. The language of the play is acted rather than just spoken and the design complements and enhances the action. The set is simple, yet satisfyingly dramatic. Fire is a constant motif throughout, the fire of passion in love and hate. Spouts of fire burst from under the stage adding danger to fight scenes, and are reflected in the backlit medieval sun-ray around Juliet’s balcony as the lovers herald the dawn.
Sam Troughton makes an excellent job of a notoriously difficult role; his Romeo is sexy and endearing, while Mariah Gale, as his Juliet, catches the essence of the teenager beautifully, hovering between child and woman, with enough spikiness to convince us of her rebellion against her family and their feud. It is easy to believe that these two are genuinely attracted, and the tragedy of their doomed affair is therefore the more poignant.
Forbes Masson’s Friar is tough, yet sympathetic, and Noma Dumezweni as Juliet’s Nurse gives an intelligent interpretation that is funny without being foolish. James Howard ‘s Paris convinces us he is genuinely deeply saddened at the loss of his bride, and Joseph Arkley plays a dangerous and brooding Tybalt.
There are a few areas that need more work. Richard Katz has some interesting ideas about his role as Capulet, but is not quite communicating them effectively enough as yet, and Jonjo O’Neill’s maverick Mercutio occasionally overdoes the clowning, at the expense of his charismatic sexiness.
There are cuts in the text, but generally these are not too savage, the ending is very much focused on the waste of youth, rather than the myopia of the feuding parents – no mention of raising memorial statues to cloud the final tragic tableau.
So, a few quibbles, but a great deal to delight in and it is a long time since I have enjoyed a Romeo and Juliet as much.
Escalus, Prince of Verona: David Carr.
Mercutio: Jonjo O’Neill.
Paris: James Howard.
Lord Montague: David Rubin.
Lady Montague: Simone Saunders.
Romeo: Sam Troughton.
Benvolio: Oliver Ryan.
Balthasar: Gruffudd Glyn.
Abraham/Friar John/Watchman: Peter Peverley.
Lord Capulet: Richard Katz.
Lady Capulet: Christine Entwisle.
Juliet: Mariah Gale.
Tybalt: Joseph Arkley.
Nurse: Noma Dumezweni.
Peter: Dyfan Dwyfor.
Cousin Capulet/Apothecary/Constable: Patrick Romer.
Sampson/Watchman: James Traherne.
Gregory: Dharmesh Patel.
Friar Laurence: Forbes Masson.
Ladies: Debbie Korley, Kirsty Woodward.
Director: Rupert Goold.
Designer: Tom Scutt.
Lighting: Howard Harrison.
Sound/Music: Adam Cork.
Music Director: Bruce O’Neill.
Video/Projection: Lorna Heavey.
Choreographer: Georgina Lamb.
Fights: Terry King.
Company Text and Voice work: Alison Bomber.
Movement: Struan Leslie.
Assistant director: Michael Fentiman.