Romeo and Juliet is one of my favourite plays. I adore the language, the relationships and the character dynamics. Therefore when I saw The Rose Theatre in Kingston was putting it on as part of their youth festival I was delighted to be asked to review it. Unfortunately the experience did not live up to my expectations. When first welcomed into the theatre I found the ushers abrupt and rude, they continued to behave in this way during the interval whilst barking demands at members of the audience.
The show started well, having Elvis make the "No phones" announcement really placed the audience into the setting of Las Vegas. However when the show started the mismatch of accents did not link with this. It seemed that the cast could not decide which part of America they were from, Boston, Nevada or Texas. With the play being under two hours I was prepared for sections to be cut so I assumed those left in would be delivered with enough passion and integrity to make up for the missing moments. This was not the case.
Once of the actors that did make an impression was Calum Green whose interpretation of Mercutio was brilliant. He played him with a profound arrogance that gave the Queen Mab speech a whole new meaning. I got the impression that Mercutio was mentally unstable and his interactions with the other characters added to this. When he died I was overwhelmed by the emotion and passion Green put into the final speech. I found myself with tears in my ears at his demise and dreaded the idea that the best of the bunch was gone before the interval.
The protagonist Romeo was a massive let down. He delivered the emotion very well showing grief and love with a tension that was palpable but his delivery of Shakespeare's lines was awful. Karl Falconer is an actor that looked the part and showed the part but did not speak the part. He clearly did not understand all the lines he was saying and the majority of them felt rushed and hurried. I found myself straining to hear his lines even to the extent that I actually moved closer after the interval.
The director made some odd choices. There were a few dance numbers in the show but these were sloppy and out of time. Also there were moments when the protagonists were speaking but they were on the sides and there was a dance happening in centre stage. I could not focus on the main action with a massive distraction in the middle. The use of sound was also quite odd. Dramatic sound effects caused the actors to be drowned out and marginalised. Sometimes I actually had to turn my ear towards the stage forsaking my vision in order to hear what was happening.
Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most passionate and tense plays but this production did not deliver it well. From a TOWIE style Juliet to a hollow Romeo it had a real sense of trying to do too much. The Las Vegas theme fell short. If you can't pull of the accent then why try it. A good attempt at a classic I would recommend this to anyone looking for an easy but unimportant production.
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