"Welcome to my new definitive"
by remotegoat reviewer for remotegoat on 17/04/15

For many of the philistines of my generation, Bas Luhrmann’s film will be our defining Romeo & Juliet. It burst with glamour, sophistication and heightened reality at our most impressionable age. I emerged from the cinema sizzling with a sense of transposed cool.
Can a touring theatre step up and take on the extravagance and magnetism of the silver screen? Lord yes. And they can soar far beyond the limits of celluloid.
There was a sense of genuine connection as, audience still taking their seats, the cast began to emerge from the set. Passing amongst us, strumming instruments before breaking into chorus. They could indeed be a troupe of Elizabethan players; their booth stage could stand in any square. Constructed as a deck surmounted by study wooden scaffold it enables the action to take place over two levels in a tale of high elation and deep despair.
Scenes mingle, intertwine and overlay each other. Sometimes actors freeze, sometimes they quietly continue with business as a parallel scene becomes more prominent, always there are images aligning to heighten the text. The action is at times uproarious, tender, violent, lewd & raunchy, the acres of male flesh on show can only have helped quieten the hordes of teenage girls who shared our audience.
The greatest excitement and humour in Romeo & Juliet comes from Mercutio; like Doc Holliday, he’s just the coolest guy in town. Steffan Donnelly gives him all the mercurial attraction one could ask for; more. Anyone looking to cast Loki would do well to look in his direction. But my heart was stolen by Sarah Higgins’ wonderful scots nurse. She is my star of the show (Mercutio; Benvolio, cry the teenage hoard), tender, beautiful, hilarious, with perfect timing. An elderly lady next to me was complaining to her neighbour that the scots accent obscured the meaning of the words, but to me it enhanced the music of the language.
All the cast – barring our hero and heroine – play multiple roles. The changes signified clearly with simple, effective changes of costume. None achieve this more dexterously than Tom Kanji who is Friar Lawrence and Benvolio.
I want to mention the programme, which is excellent. With a great deal of background of the company; analysis and context of the play it’s not just a cast list for keepsake. It’s a good read and extends the pleasure of the night.
This is a brilliantly staged and adroitly performed production that will bring to mind your loves, first love, loves past, loves dead and loves that may yet be.

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