Romeo and Juliet
2nd Oct 2018
Romeo and Juliet is my least favourite Shakespeare play. I confess to disappointment that this was the People's Theatre choice this year. I am in a minority. It's a crowd pleaser, everyone loves Romeo and Juliet except me. I think my dislike must stem from a bad production seen some time ago. And possibly Leonardo Di Caprio can shoulder some of the blame. I am always impatient with the fickleness of the characters, and the unreasonable feud. Do any of them even know why the two families don't like each other?
So it takes something special to get me on side for this one. Would People's Theatre be able to sway me from my prejudiced outlook?
Director Anna Dobson took her inspiration from the BBC's Peaky Blinders, bringing the play into post war 20th Century. This gives plenty of reasons for unrest and dissatisfaction in life to account for the many grudges and battles between opposing factions, and gives the wardrobe and set builders the opportunity to be a little more creative. No doublets and pantaloons here, and no rose covered balcony. The set is industrial, with barrels, packing cases and chains in place of the streets of Verona and rosy arbours. The cast are dressed in Tweeds and flat caps, swords replaced with flick knives and cudgels. The women dressed beautifully in furs and lace.
And in the background haunting Nick Cave tunes.
You know the plot - The Montagues and Capulets create fear and mayhem in the streets of Verona, violence erupting whenever the two factions meet. But two meet and fall in love - Romeo, a Montagu, and Juliet a Capulet. They enlist the help of Friar Laurence who marries them in secret. Meanwhile Juliet's father has brokered a marriage agreement with Paris.
I won't be spoiling the plot if I tell you it doesn't end well.
Craig Fairbairn and Emma Jayne Richards sizzle on stage with barely controlled passion in their scenes, capturing and conveying to all around, the immediacy of their attraction to each other and the all-consuming nature of their love.
Richard Jack gives an exceptional performance as the hot tempered and lewd Mercutio- the friend whose temper and loyalty contribute to the tragedy.
It is a fast paced, visually stunning and beautifully executed production. Did the team succeed in impressing me with their Romeo And Juliet? They did. They played a peaky blinder.
It runs until Saturday 6th October.