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Review of Romeo and Juliet – Guildford Shakespeare Company

GSC Romeo and Juliet - Photographer Matt Pereira
GSC Romeo and Juliet – Photographer Matt Pereira

Guildford Shakespeare Company are a site-responsive theatre company and often their venues are among the stars of the production. Holy Trinity Church is the largest Georgian Church in Surrey and its rich and beautiful style is the inspiration for the look and style of this production. Neil Irish’s designs are stunning, I was particularly struck by the clever use of light and drapery to create silhouettes behind the altar screen creating another layer of depth to the action on the stage.

This is one of my favourite plays and one that I know so well I can almost match the actors word for word. I had to take Co-founders Sarah Gobran and Matt Pinches’ advice and try to forget what I knew and allow myself to be surprised. Charlotte Conquest’s production makes excellent use of the small space available to her, actors enter from all sides of the room and the busy pace of the play makes you feel as if you are watching a much larger cast at work. The innovative use of the movement of the cast and their masks and fans gave the illusion of the Capulet’s party being in a crowded ballroom even though the cast is relatively small in number.

Jack Whitam stands out as witty, stylish young blade Mercutio, and Harriet Thorpe a wonderful comedienne brings a huge amount of fun and warmth to the role of Nurse. Lucy Pearson is most convincing as Juliet capturing the excitement and spontaneity of young love. I felt totally involved with her swing of emotions from her bursting impatience waiting for Romeo’s arrival and her transformation to pale waif in her later distress. Sarah Gobran’s portrayal of Lady Capulet is also brilliant, showing her grief and her fervent desire for retribution after her beloved nephew Tybalt is killed. Community Choral singers provide beautiful musical breaks between the scenes.

This is an excellent production of an excellent play. I am quite envious of anyone going to see it who is unfamiliar with the story, it is very moving. There really never was a story of more woe than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

4 stars

Review by Sally Knipe

Guildford’s award-winning theatre company invite you to join them as they bring Shakespeare’s gripping love-story, Romeo & Juliet, to life in the magnificent surroundings of Guildford’s Georgian church, Holy Trinity.
GSC specialise in creating visceral and immersive theatre experiences in non-theatre venues, placing the audience at the heart of the play. “The nurturing of new audiences for Shakespeare is at the core of our work” explained Co-Founder Matt Pinches, “and this production will be absolutely perfect for that, whether they are young or old; whilst still giving seasoned theatre-goers a very special version of this powerful story”.

Embracing the same period as the church itself (completed in 1764), this production will highlight the beauty of the church’s golden apse, bringing the impact of Holy Trinity’s ecclesiastical spirit to the forefront: accentuating the play’s themes of duty, passion and sacrifice. The black and gold Victorian Rood-Screen will be utilised to create Georgian-style cameos whilst also providing the perfect framing for Juliet’s candle-lit tomb in front of the altar.

Director/Designer team CHARLOTTE CONQUEST and NIEL IRISH return to the company following their recent collaboration on this summer’s 5 STAR The Two Gentlemen of Verona. Joining the creative team are MATT EATON (Sound Designer) and PETER HARRISON (Lighting). The production will also feature original choral music composed by MARY MCADAM.

Harriet Thorpe – Nurse
Gordon Cooper – Lord Capulet
Robert Elkins – Benvolio
Sarah Gobran – Lady Capulet
Rikki Lawton – Tybalt/Paris
Ricky Oakley – Romeo
Lucy Pearson – Juliet
Matt Pinches – Prince
Jack Whitam – Mercutio
Noel White – Friar Lawrence

Director Charlotte Conquest
Designer Neil Irish
Choral Music Composer Mary McAdam
Sound Designer Matt Eaton
Lighting Designer Peter Harrison
Fight Director Philip d’Orléans

Choreographer Stuart Winter
Assistant Designer Anett Black
Assistant Director Indiana Lown Collins
Producers Sarah Gobran/Matt Pinches

Romeo and Juliet
3 – 24 February 2018
Holy Trinity Church
High Street, Guildford


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