It’s always interesting to see how directors modernise a Shakespeare play. In this production, Erica Whyman brings everything up to date in a no-frills contemporary and fresh take, where the cast wear street-gear; trainers and gym-kit, leather and leggings; they speak ‘street’ (as far as Shakespearean verse allows) plus there’s plenty of swagger. And in an all-too current reflection of contemporary knife-crime, these youths carry daggers. And use them on each other.
Bally Gill is a likeable Romeo from the start, who is captivated (often in a comedic way) by Juliet. He is eager and romantic, of course, but he is also impulsive and turns murderer.
Karen Fishwick delivers a beautifully Scottish-spoken Juliet with a fresh charm. And her nurse (Ishia Bennison) brings a breath of colour (in her clothing and acting!) and humour to the stage.
Andrew French as Friar Laurence is a calming, almost Buddhist-like presence and he delivers his lines clearly and beautifully, while a female cockney-accented Mercutio (Charlotte Josephine) thrusts and shadow-boxes her way vociferously through scenes with an edge of menace.
The staging is simple – a large concrete box acts as Juliet’s home, her balcony and ultimately her tomb. But despite its simplicity, it’s atmospheric – a burst of natural greenery here, a twinkling night sky there.
This RSC production of Romeo and Juliet is on at The New Theatre, Cardiff until Saturday 9th March. Click here for info
It then tours the UK until 23rd March. More info here