Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Alex Clifton
Reviewer: Abbie Rippon
It’s a warm summers evening, you have a glass of fizz in hand, one of Shakespeare’s most legendary plays being played before you. Really, what better way is there to while away an evening?
Romeo and Juliet, despite its tragic ending, is a beautiful, youthful, lust and energy ridden piece of theatre. So often productions over emphasise the tragic nature of the play. Yes our protagonists are battling a fate beyond their control and are ultimately destined for death (oops, sorry – spoiler alert) however two thirds of the play are about youth, love, angst, the vigour of being a teenager. Chester Performs really brings out these elements of the production.
What is initially striking about the show is its wonderful, exuberant pace. The prologue states that the production is ‘two hours traffik’ and this production doesn’t mess about with over-use of dramatic pause. The velocity of the performance metaphorically reflects the momentum of youthful love. Romeo and Juliet fall in love at a pace that we, the audience, remember from when we were teenagers and this rapidity amplifies the emotions of the young characters.
Adam Harley and Jessica Clarke take on the title rôles with a beautiful sense of energy which reflects what it is to be a teenager in love. Often we forget that that is what Romeo and Juliet are – teenagers. The pair beautifully embody those exquisite yet terrifying emotions that are so new and confusing to characters of a young age with measure, control and zeal. Romeo’s uncouth comrades Benvolio and Mercutio, played by Thomas Richardson and Graham O’Mara respectively, are like a pair of older brothers to Romeo – maybe more experienced but no more mature despite their extra years. Harley, Richardson and O’Mara demonstrate the caring yet teasing relationship of the three friends delightfully.
The whole ensemble are excellent in performance; many double up rôles as well as playing musical instruments to support the narrative of the play. The piece opens with a large quarrel between the servants of the Montague and Capulet households which fills the stage with what is perceived as more mockery than pure hatred. This is the only element of the production that seemed to hinder the work – the long felt hatred between the two dignified households isn’t as prevalent as it could be; the reason why Romeo and Juliet had to keep their love a secret feels a little lost in the jostle and banter of the first two acts.
Despite this, the Grosvenor Park hosts an excellent production with a lot going for it. Not only is the performance good quality but the hospitality at the venue is superb. The staff simply can’t do enough for their audience – even escorting the odd tipsy audience member to the loo isn’t outside their remit. The production, setting and staff make the evening as a whole a wonderful experience.
Runs in Rep until 22nd August