Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

A production well worth experiencing

Romeo and Juliet

Wales Theatre Company , Grand Theatre Swansea , September-27-08
Romeo and Juliet by Wales Theatre Company For the bulk of the first act of Michael Bogdanovís new Romeo and Juliet I feared that it was going to be something of a disaster.

With the fight between Mercutio and Tybalt suddenly the energy level leapt up and from that point on the play gripped both narratively and emotionally. The irony is that Russell Gomer as Mercutio and particularly Richard Munday as Tybalt had been the actors who energised the stage. You might have expected that their charactersí deaths would adversely affect the production but the opposite happened.

Whereas there was no conviction to the familiesí blood feud early on, suddenly the feelings of revenge became palpable. Jack Ryderís Romeo remained something of a blank throughout; I couldnít see that he would quicken Julietís blood at all. However Sara Lloyd-Gregoryís Juliet grew in maturity, passion and rebellion and the electrifying moment when her arm almost embraced Romeo in the tomb was beautiful and moving.

Simon Armstrong played Friar Laurence as an essentially good man who makes terrible mistakes from the best of motives. Surprisingly Christine Pritchard lost a lot of the Nurseís verbal comedy but she got laughs with some lovely comic body language.

For me many of the early problems were caused by an awkward and ugly metal staircase cum balcony which kept being wheeled around, getting in the way and contributing nothing apart from being quite effective in the balcony scene itself and as the entrance to the tomb. It was highly culpable of obscuring the excellent back projections of Italian towns and paparazzi style social photographs that were imaginatively used as scenery.

There were some excellent directorial touches. I liked the motorcycles and the down and dirty drug dealer, usually the apothecary. Most of all I liked the very end when, instead of the deaths uniting the families, the unveiling of the loversí statue is used as a hypocritical photo opportunity. Nothing has been solved.

I admit that when I first saw the scene I had problems accepting it but the more Iíve thought about it the more it comes close to justifying the whole concept.

Ultimately then, a production well worth experiencing and hopefully the early parts will have tightened up by now.

Reviewed by: Victor Hallett

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