Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Romeo and Juliet

Sherman Theatre Company , Sherman Theatre , October-08-14
Romeo and Juliet by Sherman Theatre Company EXCITEMENT! EXCITEMENT! EXCITEMENT is the word that sums up this bold and compelling production from the Sherman Theatre’s newly appointed artistic director, Rachel O’Riordan.

From the opening moment the young Montagues and Capulets fling themselves at each other’s throats with a fine demonstration of stage fighting, superbly staged by Kevin McCurdy. Immediately we are presented with the futility of needless anger and conflict. Tony Flynn’s prince echoes the frustration we all feel. It will still be there all around us long after we have left the theatre. Though we all know the outcome we are on the edge of our seats waiting and watching and being drawn more and more into the tragic story as it enfolds. Luke Eliott Bridgeman’s Tybalt emerges as the nasty guy to watch; he also brings to the role of Paris a strength and understanding seldom seen in this minor role.

There was more upbeat dash from Anita Reynolds with her wonderful portrayal of the nurse, in her shocking pink tracksuit and Jamaican patwah. She also produces a deep sensitivity as her treasured Juliet’s troubles begin to emerge. Sean O’Callaghan’s Montague is a country gentleman but his punch-bag training friar is full of vigour and enthusiasm in his aiding of the two young lovers’ quest, no gentle man of God here. Scott Reid is an excellent Mercutio. There is a real bond of friendship between him and Romeo and Linden Walcott-Burton’s nicely subdued Benvolio. Reid flits about like the mischievous fairy herself as he delivers Shakespeare’s Queen Mab speech.

This hustle and bustle comes to an abrupt halt as the eyes of the beautiful young lovers meet. Immediately we are captivated by truth and strength in the performances of both Chris Gordon’s Romeo in a hoodie and Sophie Melville’s feisty modern Juliet. In this his first professional role after leaving the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Gordon expresses a remarkable and powerful understanding of the demands of the character and the situation. Melville’s Juliet is full of fun and laughter turning to a very strong and captivating truth as her life begins to fall apart. This strength of character is something she has inherited from her parents. There are two more strong and telling performances from Sara Lloyd-Gregory as Lady Capulet and Paul Rattray as her husband.

We are in the 21st century. Designer Kenny Miller provides a grim concrete bowl to house most of the action with a touch of elegance when we visit the home of the Capulets. There are many moments of beauty in his thoughtful staging. With bold musique concrete as part of Mike Beer’s sound design, fireworks and clothes from todays high streets the play strongly catches the imaginations of the young audience who are readily able to identify with the production. But make no mistake this is a play for everyone and a great start to a new era at the Sherman.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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