DramaNorth East & YorkshireReviewShakespeare

Romeo and Juliet – West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds

Writer: William Shakespeare

Director: Amy Leach

Reviewer: Dawn Smallwood

Amy Leach has adapted Shakespeare’s tragedy with a very modern take, linking with current affairs so that every member of the audience can relate to this production.

This production is contemporary and radical, supported by Hayley Grindle’s urban staging with contrast lighting by Joshua Carr.  The production’s aim is to link to modern society where a community either unites or more appropriately divides.  The Montague and Capulet households in this production are a split community where violent feuds and conflicts happen between them in order for one to get the upper hand. 

The musical accompaniment is modern, with inclusions of techno/disco music featured during the space themed ball where the pair unexpectedly meets.  Initially, their lovestruck moment makes them oblivious to what household they belong to.  When they realise it didn’t make any difference, Juliet states “My only love sprung from my only hate” and feels the same after the tragic fight between Mercutio (Elexi Walker) and Tybalt (Tachia Newall).

This production features a young cast exclusively from the Young People’s Company, an in-house theatre company, which encourages and nurtures young talent.  Notable performances are from Dan Parr as Romeo, Tessa Parr as Juliet, and Walker’s portrayal as a female Mercutio, the only girl in the Montague gang.  Parrs’ torments and the contrast of Juliet’s innocence and the actual reality, is heartrending and emotive.

This three-hour play allows the opportunity for the uninterrupted text to be adapted without compromise, and this production proves how versatile Shakespeare’s text is.  Leach ensures the story fits into the current climate of how the nation and its communities are affected with events that are happening thick and fast.  Romeo and Juliet explores intergenerational conflict, particularly the differing opinions today as far as political and social values are concerned along with hope being sparkled from the forbidden love between Romeo and Juliet.  The dynamic play offers the audience, whether young or old, to ponder over the current social landscape through the eyes of Shakespeare.

This is an excellent production with a story that stands as much now as when it was first written.   A creative and imaginative adaptation that offers the audience to be entertained, evoking reflective thinking on “Gloomy peace in the morrow”.

Runs until 25 March 2017 | Image: Anthony Robling

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Very modern take!

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The Yorkshire & North East team is under the editorship of Mark Clegg. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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