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Art Blog

By Lucy Howard

Review - Romeo and Juliet


Opposing families at war. Doomed lovers precariously straddling the divide. Taking on the world’s most famous love story is always a challenge. The latest production of Romeo and Juliet from the RSC, directed by Rupert Goold, is a fresh and innovative take on the tragic tale.

Romeo (Sam Troughton) first appears as a tourist with a camera, taking pictures of the sights around him. This is a reminder of how we are all tourists; we are all bit players in life’s game, vulnerable, unknowing of our surroundings, our place in the world and what our future holds, as we constantly battle the multitudinal forces around us.

This sets the scene for Romeo’s first meeting with Juliet (Mariah Gale), which is suitably charged with tension and magic. Their first kiss at the end of the first half is accompanied by an explosion of yellow light as sun-like rays emerge from behind them, in an evocative display of the passion and fire of their union.

In the second half a little of this fire dissipates, as the action seems to languish towards the end and the play as a whole feels a touch too long. However, this change in pace is somewhat alleviated not only by the suitably passionate Romeo and Juliet, who sustain the central love story, but by some memorable figures in the supporting cast too. Juliet’s nurse (Noma Dumezweni) almost steals the show, from her hilarious introduction to the play to the closing scenes. However, this caricature (along with others in the cast) is sometimes a little over the top and seems misplaced, which threatens to overshadow Romeo and Juliet’s rather more straitlaced character portrayals- such as running in circles around Juliet’s dead body in the tomb.

However, this play is ultimately all about its eponymous hero and heroine, who are played with an ideal mix of youthful flair and prescient wisdom. Romeo and Juliet is a worthy and memorable adaptation of a classic play, whose themes and morals resonate with anyone who has ever been human.

To 27 August

The RSC is also producing a modern-day Twitter version of Romeo and Juliet, titled Such Tweet Sorrow, which has been online since 11 April and runs for five weeks. The action unfolds in real time, using six main characters, and while some events are scripted, the action will also respond to real-life events and tweets from members of the public.

Find out more at http://suchtweetsorrow.com

Meanwhile, Juliet and Her Romeo at Bristol Old Vic sets the play in old age rather than youth. Verona becomes Verona Care Home, where octogenarian residents Romeo and Juliet (played by Michael Byrne and Sian Phillips) meet at a tea dance.

To 24 April

About Lucy Howard

Lucy Howard is an international arts correspondent who will be blogging about her passion for art, music and traveling. Her work has appeared all over the world in Arts Disability Culture magazine, Arts Access Australia, Travel Trade magazine, Eye magazine, TNT travel magazine and the website Arts Hub.
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