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Romeo and Juliet (Susan Elkin reviews)

Romeo and Juliet – ★★★
Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank.
society/company: Shakespeare’s Globe
performance date: 21 Mar 2019
venue: Shakespeare’s Globe, 21 New Globe Walk, Bankside, London SE1 9DT


This Romeo and Juliet is a perfectly decent, workmanlike, gimmick-free, well abridged “90 minute traffic of our stage” but somehow it never lifts and is curiously unmoving. Yes, of course, the actors have to find ways of asserting audibility in an unforgiving open air space under the Heathrow flight path and you can certainly hear every word spoken by the company of this cast of ten. On the other hand that shouldn’t mean wooden, shouted, slow pace delivery which kills all naturalism so that you never forget you are watching actors in a play.

Charlotte Beaumont, as Juliet, gets all the best poetry and speaks the verse quite well. She is convincing as a young girl gleefully in love and happy to rebel against her parents too. Debbie Chazen’s shrill nurse is fun and I liked Hermione Gulliford’s mafia-wife, cold, willowy Lady Capulet. Ned Derrington’s death as Mercutio is arguably the most powerful moment in this production and there’s good work from Shalisha James-Davis as the ever-sensible Benvolio. And well done Natasha Rickman who “read in” for indisposed Ayoola Smart as Tybalt and the Apothecary at the performance I saw.

There’s a three-piece band, led by Richard Henry mostly on the gallery but amongst the actors for the Capulet party scene. Music is by Olly Fox. Live music for the dancing is a bonus but the musicians, good as they are, and what they play add very little to the rest of the piece. In fact their continual exits and entrances are a distraction.

This Romeo and Juliet is part of a thirteen-year series of teen-friendly versions and part of the annual ongoing Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank project. Some performances are open to the public. Others are mainly for school groups from London and Birmingham who get free tickets – and a valuable introduction to live theatre. This production, directed by Michael Oakley (who also did last year’s Much Ado about Nothing) is keeping up the good work – and the family audience I saw it with seemed to be lapping it up – although it is definitely less energetic and arresting than some previous shows in the series.

First published by Sardines:

Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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