ROMEO AND JULIET
by William Shakespeare.
Saïd Business School Park End Street OX1 1HP To 4 September 2010.
(to 14 August) Mon-Sat- 7.30pm Mat Sat 2.30pm..
(16 Aug-4 Sept) Mon-Sat 7pm Mat Sat 2pm. no performance 23 Aug.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.
TICKETS: 01865 766266.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 5 August.
Highly active, clearly spoken and visually inventive production
Fortunate Juliet; never to become like her mother, the perennially cocktail-toting party-animal Lady Capulet, someone totally ineffectual, with her looks of dismay when Romeo isn’t handed the ultimate sentence. No wonder she’s like that, with Gordon Cooper’s Scottish voice emphasising her husband’s commanding manner.
But Charlotte Conquest’s Creation Theatre production is very much on the side of youth. With its cuts (occasionally regrettable – the last speech doesn’t carry enough weight) it makes rapid action paramount from the opening Montague/Capulet feud erupting amid the audience in the Saïd Business School’s courtyard – before we clamber to the rooftop amphitheatre’s tiered semi-circles. (There’s an indoor alternative for wet nights, but this is esentially an outdoor production.)
Amy Noble’s Juliet, first seen gazing into the distance, has a teenager’s temper, often impatient with adults. She’s thoughtful too, asking Romeo cautiously rather than coyly what satisfaction he seeks. Though all characters have times when emotion risks running away with the verse, Noble brings clarity, as does Patrick Myles’ Romeo.
She, fittingly for the character with most of the famous lines, is thoughtfully passionate, while he’s impulsively active – leaping to her balcony, or frenziedly stabbing Tybalt in the extensive fight.
Both Richard Kidd’s sneering Tybalt and Benjamin Askew’s Mercutio – blonde, with head-band and gold shoes, the charismatic young leader of his peers – are vivid. Nicky Goldie’s northern Nurse fortunately soon drops supposedly funny fussiness and develops dignity under attack, while James Sobol Kelly has welcome restraint as a Friar Lawrence midway between parish priest and magus.
Conquest employs a number of striking visual images: Juliet dancing unawares while Romeo gazes at her, and later facing Romeo as she talks with her Nurse about him, while he and the Friar talk in a different location. Cinematic intercutting shows Romeo and Juliet intertwined in their private world as arguments develop among others.
And Juliet’s potion takes effect with the final wedding preparations heard as from a detached chorus, through layers of the drug’s impact on her mind, while bodies sweep the bedclothes around her. It’s an idea that fits this production’s rapidity and visual invention.
Mercutio/Montague: Benjamin Askew.
Benvolio: Ben Ashton.
Capulet: Gordon Cooper.
Lady Capulet: Caroline Devlin.
Nurse/Prince of Verona: Nicky Goldie.
Friar Lawrence: James Sobol Kelly.
Tybalt/Paris: Richard Kidd.
Romeo: Patrick Myles.
Juliet: Amy Noble.
Designer: Lucy Wilkinson.
Lighting: Ashley Bale.
Sound: Matt Eaton.
Voice/verse coach: Sarah Stephenson.
Movement: Aidan Treays.
Fight director: Philip D’Orleans.
Assistant director: Caroline Devlin.
Assistant designer: Kate Matthews.