Going to review Romeo and Juliet is not an easy thing for me; I’ve seen a lot of productions of Shakespeare’s tragedy about the two star crossed lovers, I have studied the play and like most of us I’ve watched Baz Luhrmann’s filmic adaptation.
For me, I was curious as to what new things could be done with this play, how Antic Disposition would take the script and bring it to life on stage and how they would dramatize this epic story “ For never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo”!
I’ll start with the venue, for this was truly magical. The performance takes place within the Round in The Temple Church , off Fleet Street. The programme read “to be in the round was to be reminded of Christ’s burial, of our baptism in to his death”.
As an audience, we are seated in six sections in the round – we are surrounded by effigies including multiple Earls of Pembroke and the Earl of Essex. The walls display the names of the men that were killed in battle in both of the world wars. The whole place is shrouded in death, as is the play we are about to watch.
The Temple Church provides a beautiful backdrop for the story, it adds context, imagery and produces an atmosphere of austerity. Frustratingly it also messes with the acoustics and I really struggled to hear a lot of the performance – I really felt for the cast as it was not easy for them to project their voices and often I missed chunks of dialogue, this was especially prevalent when the actors had their backs to me. I also felt that the beautiful score they had put together drowned out their voices a number of times. This was such a shame as I am sure the production would have drawn me in much more had it been set in a typical proscenium arch space.
Saying this, I must commend a few of the cast members, in particular Dylan Kennedy who played Romeo in this production. Dylan’s portrayal of Romeo was on point. Every word he delivered was with care and emotion. He lingered over text and imagery oozed from his speeches. He was totally believable as a love stuck, childish fool who has over-inflated feelings of love, first for Rosalind, then for Juliet – feelings of love that ultimately lead to the death of him and his lover.
I also really enjoyed Alex Hooper’s interpretation of Paris, although only a small part in this production, Alex delivered a performance where Paris was very much like a character from TOWIE, maybe the anti-hero from the yet to be made The only way is Verona! He was suave, arrogant and charming all at once. His sunglasses adding much ego to the character.
Finally, we cannot talk about Romeo and Juliet without talking about the death of Mercutio and Tybalt. I loved the fight scenes that were skilfully choreographed by Ruth Cooper-Brown, their Fight Director. All 3 men moved with ease and I enjoyed watching them dance around the stage in the fights for their lives.
I also felt that James Murfitt as Mercutio and Jack Jospeh as Tybalt gave first class performances in their death scenes. Not an easy thing to do, however, both men died with conviction and neither of them over-played the scenes. I was particular moved by Tybalt’s dying speech before he exited the stage.
All in all, I don’t think this production gave any new insights in to the play, however the setting was beautiful, there were some beautiful moments on stage and I did see members of the audience with tears in their eyes in the final scene. Maybe if the acoustics would have been better it would have been an altogether different production.
Review by Faye Stockley
Antic Disposition presents ROMEO AND JULIET – by William Shakespeare
Saturday 30th August to Sunday 7th September
Daily at 8.00pm
Saturday and Sunday matinees at 3pm
No performance Tuesday 2nd September
Tickets: £15 / £25
Premium Seats: £35
London, EC4Y 7BB
Box office: 0333 666 3366
Book online at www.anticdisposition.co.uk
Tuesday 2nd September 2014