Romeo & Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most popular and frequently performed plays, and has been adapted countless times for stage, film and TV, meaning that there is potential for new productions to fall victim to feeling tiresome or repetitive. However, New Wolsey Theatre have provided a masterclass in making a timeless play feel modern, fresh, and exciting, enabling new and younger audiences to be introduced to Shakespeare's work. Directed by New Wolsey's Artistic Director and Chief Executive (Douglas Rintoul), this production maintains the integrity of the original text but incorporates a pacy and innovative element that completely immerses you in the action and passion of this tragic love story.
Whilst still using the Shakespearian language, which can sometimes be daunting to those not overly familiar of Shakespeare, Rintoul has cleverly directed this play to reach its target audience of students, making the play completely accessible. Video projections (Pete Hazelwood) are used throughout to show 'breaking news' clips of the wars going on in Verona, characters drunkenly sing along to a karaoke and modern songs play at a party, characters drink bottles of Stella Artois and lucozade, and wear modern clothing.
The set is minimalistic, with the occasional prop used to divert the play to different locations, and it is the sound (James Cook) and lighting (Jack Hathaway) that truly brings this production to life, effectively building on the tension as the play reaches its dramatic ending as Romeo & Juliet seal their fate. Video projections are also used to create different locations, such as the Capulet household, and the cast perform both in front of and behind a transparent curtain, moving the plot to different locations. These elements, alongside the performances of the cast are what kept this production so engaging and dynamic.
All of the cast do a commendable job of giving passionate performances that are required for such a dramatic and tragic text. Benjamin Prudence, Ciaran Forde, Mae Munuo and Bethany O'Halloran play multiple roles with nuanced, yet clearly defined characteristics. Tom Casey gives a valiant performance as lovesick and desperate Romeo, completely enthralled with headstrong Juliet (Ophelia Charlesworth.) The chemistry between the two leads is undeniable, making their love story something to root for and believe in.
Romeo & Juliet completed its run at New Wolsey Theatre on 8th February but will make its way to Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds from 13th February until 17th February. For more information and tickets, you can follow the link here.
AD | gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by Will Green