Romeo and Juliet at New Theatre
We all know the story – two teenagers from rival families fall in love and consequently meet their deaths through a series of murders and misunderstandings.
However, the New Theatre’s production made sure we were never too laidback, despite our understanding. Thanks to a collectively strong performance and use of contrast between sharp comedy and blunt tragedy, this production was nothing short of excellent.
Featuring live music, a somewhat modern style and uproarious humour, the production was very accessible: from opening in the aftermath with the Friar under police interrogation, to Juliet changing her converse halfway through to match her outfit.
Capulet’s ball featured some wonderful choreography, yet was simultaneously funny – rather like watching male behaviour in a club at times (and featuring twerking, might I add). Mercutio’s trousers were even down at one point. Bizarre but brilliant.
The intimacy of the theatre meant the young Montagues could even have a bit of a flirt with audience members.
Interspersed with tender moments between the two lovers, well executed fight scenes and some tragic deaths, it simply generated anticipation for the second half.
With the tiny theatre shrouded in darkness for the most part of the following act, you could almost feel the chill of the Capulet’s tomb, lit only by torchlight. The gags were gone completely and instead we were left as helpless spectators to the young lovers’ deaths.
As the two families joined hands over their dead children, the production really exuded that sense of peaceful yet tragic closure that Shakespeare intended.
The humour, as brilliant as it was at the time, seemed fleeting in comparison and the director did well to ensure the hilarity of the first half did not overpower the tragedy of the timeless play when all was done.