Theatre in Wales

Theatre, dance and performance reviews

Romeo in the rain

Romeo and Juliet

Taking Flight Theatre , Thompson Park Cardiff , June 19, 2016
This modern times Romeo and Juliet, 1963 on the college year book, is set in a very posh Verona school where the rival houses of Montague and Capulet constantly strive for dominance. This is clear from the off as we watch a very contentious boat race sweep across the park. Now out of their bright stripy rowing blazers, under some trees a little distance away Benvolio (Montague) and Tybalt (Capulet) resume their constant brawling. Sam Bees and Toby Vaughan get the nastiness going well. A big tribute to them and all the cast for giving us some lively and fine entertainment in such terrible conditions of pouring rain. They certainly held the attention of the good crowd, well protected by their umbrellas.

Benvolio bumps into his cousin Romeo. Romeo is depressed, he’s in love with Rosaline (Capulet) but his love is not returned. William Ross-Fawcett does a great job as the star-crossed lover. He’s very convincing as one of the boys, robustly gentle in his love for Juliet and captures our feelings in his final moments of despair. Taking Flight productions, directed by Elise Davison are usually full of fun well aimed at a young audience, here there is plenty of fun but she fully embraces the tragic ending with the very endearing Juliet of Stephanie Back and her Romeo lying dead on the cold wet grass at the closing of the play, a well achieved quiet and moving moment.
But in the great tradition of Taking Flight as the applause dies away they are up again and with all the cast they carry the audience away dancing merrily with them.

Benvolio and another of our young heroes friends, Mercutio, a lively Arthur Hughes, who brings a bit of a stand-up comedy approach to the famous Queen Mab speech, persuade him to gatecrash the Capulet House ball. There cupid’s arrow strikes as he sets his eyes on Juliet and he also steals her heart. That nasty guy Tybalt is furious and determines to kill Romeo. Romeo sneaks into the Capulet orchard, plenty of fine looking green leafy trees in the park. Traditionally upon a balcony above the trees Juliet declares her love for Romeo, expressed with her wide warm smile. We get her famous words in song from the delightful voices of Georgina Periam and Ania Davies who are also audio describers of the show. At other times Axelina Heagney speaks for her and has an equally engaging smile.

It is a special function of Taking Flight to always cast some of the parts in all their work actors with disabilities and very fine performers they often are; here we have Roger Hudson as a silent handbag-battering nurse. Each performance is signed by BSL Interpreter, Sami Thorpe but she is much more than that. She’s right in there with the action giving one of the most dynamic performances one could wish for.

Our lovers are off to Friar Lawrence where Romeo persuades him to marry them. Romeo, naively
thinking this would bring the two houses closer together and bringing an end to the animosity. Paul Henshall makes a very assured Friar, speaking with strength and conviction; these same qualities he also brings to his other role of the leader of the Capulets.

Feelings are running high, murder is on the scene, full of rage Tybalt kills Romeo’s close friend Mercutio, in revenge Rome kills Tybalt. “Tybalt is dead, and Romeo has been banished.” And so this very clear piece of story telling moves on to it sorrowful end.

This is a promenade performance; I do think the promenading needs a little more strategic thinking. There were one or two very long walks that held back the pace of the otherwise fast moving production. And one last little gripe, I could have done without the broad bawdy comedy in the early part of the play otherwise well worth standing in the pouring rain for.

Reviewed by: Michael Kelligan

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