Writer: William Shakespeare
Director: Anna Simpson
Reviewer: Ann Bawtree
The Blue Crate Theatre company was formed by graduates of the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 2012 and was named after the only props they had for their first production. True to their origins this production is a prime example of how little a play has to depend upon its sets, props and costumes as long as the acting is good, which it was!
The set resembled a small, white tiled swimming pool. The single prop was a length of red ribbon which represented not only the matrimonial tie between hero and heroine and the spilled blood of the slain but also the essential balcony! The costumes were simple but elegant and all in grey and white with just touches of red. Only Juliet wore her scarlet, all-purpose dress throughout.
This young company of seven, Oliver Lynes, Lorna Jinks, Jonathan Mulquin, Penny Lisle, Laurence North, Cameron Harle and Yvonne Martin, tackled the twelve parts and chorus work with verve, using every aspect of their technique, mime, movement and expression, to the full.
Lorna Jinks was a believable Juliet, veering from childlike innocence through teenage sulkiness to charming bride and Oliver Lynes as herRomeowas a suitably love-blinded lad. Jonathan Mulquin played the benign Friar with gentle sense but was a duly unlovable as Capulet, the harsh, arrogant Victorian Papa. Penny Lisle, who had to double as the Apothecary, was Lady Capulet, torn between the fulfilment of her daughter’s happiness and dutiful submission to her husband. In the final chorus she sternly addressed us with a scary look worthy of Morticia Addams.
Laurence North was dashing as the murdered Mercutio and was resurrected as Balthasar. Cameron Harle was stalwart as Tybalt but transformed himself into a nicely unattractive Paris. Yvonne Martin was cuddly as the Nurse, full of peasant wisdom and compassion for her charge. The only occasional weakness in some performances was probably due to an under-estimation of the acoustic of this intimate venue. Every so often but not frequently, there came the cardinal sin of inaudibility. As far as the story line was concerned that was of no consequence due to the excellent acting but for lovers of the text this could be frustrating.
All the talents of the cast are used to the full. Singing or quietly humming they provided music. When not speaking they often became scenery, statues in the church, the famous balcony and even provided most realistic sound effects for the wonderfully choreographed fight scene.
Overall this is a most interesting interpretation of what makes a good Shakespearean evening out. No opulence, reliance on elaborate sets and costly costumes. Just very good acting.
Photo: Genevieve Girling
Runs until4th May