Monday, 4 May 2015

Theatre 2015: Review Twelve

Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare's Globe, London. April 2015.

My mum was my theatre companion for this trip with a long awaited Mother's Day present, and what a way to start the 2015 Justice and Mercy season.  In the last few months I've written two essays about this play but this was my first trip to see it on stage.

Called a stripped down version of the play on the website I worried that it was going to be very cut but what they meant was a minimal stage and only eight actors - but how hard these guys worked.  All except Romeo and Juliet played multiple parts and the costumes involved cloaks being pulled over beige trousers and white shirts.  It could have been a disaster... wasn't. In fact it was spellbinding.  To avoid confusion with the doubled parts scenes would often play on top of each other - at the start I wasn't sure about this.  The initial brawl between the two houses with my favourite thumb biting lines played around the chorus' initial speech, then during the main body of the play half a scene with some characters - eg Juliet, her mother and the nurse - would freeze and half a scene with Romeo and his friends would happen.  It sounds terribly clumsy on the page like this but worked very well visually as it made it clear which role was being played at any one time.

This is a touring play that has a very short stay at the Globe and for that reason the interplay with the groundlings did seem less obvious than in Shakespeare plays that I've seen at the venue and more like the new plays performed there but while I noticed this it didn't detract or add anything in particular to the play.

I wasn't quite moved to tears by the end, I'm not sure that this venue is intimate enough for such emotions to happen or if I have just studied the text too much in the past few months. I was still transfixed throughout, as was most of the audience which contained some of the best behave school children I've ever seen at the Globe.

I do have one question about this production - what were the temporary tattoos for? The costumes were totally neutral with no date or place setting but the tattoos stuck out as incongruous, as there was so much doubling of parts they can't be explained as being to denote Capulet or Montague so I remain perplexed.

That being said this was a great day out and if the tour comes near you this year I really do recommend seeing it.  I'm considering going to Cambridge to see if an indoor venue is more intimate and emotion inducing.

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