Tag Archives: Romeo and Juliet

REVIEW: Romeo and Juliet – Theatre Royal, Glasgow

Dominic Dromgoole’s final touring production before finishing his tenure as Artistic Director of Shakespeare’s Globe is a pared-back Elizabethan style booth staging of Shakespeare’s much-loved tragedy Romeo and Juliet. With multiple roles and minimal props the actors deliver a ‘strolling player’ take on the Bard’s blockbuster.

Atmosphere is such a critical element of Globe productions, the feelings evoked in the famous wooden ‘O’ when night falls and the stars twinkle above, is both hard to beat and to replicate. And so it proved in this beautiful, jewel box, mid-Victorian, proscenium arch theatre. The lights remained ‘up’ throughout and unlike its home at the Globe did not dim as evening progressed and while certainly prompting the audience to attention, it also served to highlight the early exits of some theatre-goers during the production.

There are though, many things to applaud here: the production begins with spirit, though it feels like many miles from Verona due to the Balkan-like jig, seeming to signal an energetic purpose the proceedings; scenes are trimmed and play out overlapping one another, ridding it of time-wasting scene changes and also, in the early stages, imbuing the storytelling with drive and the narrative throughout retains its clarity due to the well thought out direction. That said by the end this early drive had all but ran out of steam and been eschewed for quite possibly, the longest draw out death scene one can remember having had to sit through. It is never a good directorial choice to provoke a desire in the audience to leap onstage and fell the fatal blow to speed up proceedings.

The company, whilst hugely competent are somewhat low-key, only Tom Kanji’s Friar Laurence/Benvolio and Sarah Higgins’ Nurse remain writ large in the memory, the pair charismatic and confident presences onstage.The young lovers are played here by close to age-appropriate actors who manage to encapsulate not only the all-consuming fire of young love but its gaucheness and naivety. However the emotions portrayed by Cassie Layton as Juliet don’t seem to come from a place of any depth, it feels more surface than substance, all not helped by her difficulties with projection in this cavernous auditorium: much of her dialogue was consigned to the ether rather than the ears of the audience.

It is such a pity, there’s much that is good here, but an evening at Shakespeare’s Globe is such a magical experience, and one’s hope is that this competent but sometimes lifeless production doesn’t prevent the audience from exploring the riches of Shakespeare further.

Runs until Saturday 8 August 2015

This review was originally written for and published by http://www.thepublicreviews.com

REVIEW: Scottish Ballet’s Romeo & Juliet – King’s Theatre, Glasgow

This article was originally written for and published by The Public Reviews at: http://www.thepublicreviews.com/scottish-ballet-romeo-and-juliet-kings-theatre-glasgow/

Music: Sergei Prokofiev

Choreography: Krzysztof Pastor

Design: Tatyana van Walsum

Often credited as the most inventive full length ballet ever created, Scottish Ballet returns with vibrant re-interpretation of the much-loved classic Romeo and Juliet.

From Sergei Prokofiev’s 52-piece score and William Shakespeare’s original narrative, Polish choreographer Krzysztof Pastor and dramaturg Willem Bruls have “pruned discretely” many of the incidental numbers and a few of the most familiar characters from the piece: there’s no Paris, no Nurse and no Escalus here, instead the focus is firmly placed on the central story of the ‘star cross’d lovers’ and their warring families. Set in the 30s, 50s and 90s, this revival of the pair’s 2008 production asks the audience the question: “are they the same lovers in every era or a new generation suffering the same old problem?”

In any narrative ballet the movement must tell the story and in trimming the extraneous distractions Pastor infuses the work with greater passion and realism and heightens the tension throughout. Credit must be given to the impressive realism with which Pastor has imbued the fight scenes, something which is often lacking in classical interpretations of the piece.

Erik Cavallari (Romeo) and Sophie Martin (Juliet) reprise the roles created on them in 2008 and both retain the same passion and focus for their characters. Martin skilfully develops Juliet from impetuous teenager to grown woman during the course of the ballet and Cavallari is a noble and dignified Romeo: both remain utterly captivating throughout. In support, Victor Zarallo has many scene-stealing moments as a mercurial Mercutio as does Christopher Harrison as a powerful Tybalt and Eve Mutso and Owen Thorne make a suitably regal, elegant and imposing pair as Juliet’s parents.

From the earthy toned costumes of the Montagues to the Fascist black-shirted Capulets to the series of projected backdrops that move from Mussolini’s 1930s through the la dolce vita 1950s (there’s more than a whiff of that other famous Romeo and Juliet adaptation West Side Story in this sequence) to Berlusconi’s 1990s, there’s much to please the eye and plenty of subtle detail, but those looking for a romantic ivy strewn balcony are in for a disappointment, replaced as it is by a minimalist, aluminium lift-like structure.

Special mention must be made of the impeccable playing of Prokofiev’s beautiful, soaring score by the orchestra of Scottish Ballet. The score sounds as fresh as the day it was written and there is a genuine spine-tingling, hairs on the back of the neck moment as the first notes of the Dance of the Knights ring out from the orchestra pit.

This is a sure-fire hit, sparkling with life and suffused with drama and with Prokofiev’s exquisite score and Pastor’s highly inventive choreography you won’t fail to be captivated from start to finish.

Runs until 26 April then touring
Image: Andrew Ross