fri 19/04/2019

Romeo and Juliet, Sherman Cymru, Cardiff | reviews, news & interviews

Romeo and Juliet, Sherman Cymru, Cardiff

Romeo and Juliet, Sherman Cymru, Cardiff

Wales's newest artistic director Rachel O'Riordan opens with an energetic blast of the Bard

Chris Gordon and Sophie Melville: buff and bleachedMark Douet

When unveiling her first season at Sherman Cymru earlier this year, new artistic director Rachel O’Riordan gave voice to two ambitions: to generate new writing within Wales, and produce classic texts which specifically resonate with the audience. What better way to begin than with Shakespeare’s famous tale of star-crossed lovers?

O'Riordan has risen to the challenge of a play which comes with such expectations with the aid of a talented cast and an intriguing set. Her designer is Kenny Miller, with whom she collaborated for Perth Theatre and Tron Theatre’s co-production of Macbeth last year. Miller’s grubby urban backdrop lifts up to reveal the celebrated balcony, which transforms into Juliet’s bedroom, the Friar’s cell, the Capulets' tomb and sundry other locations. The lack of set changes aids the flow, soundtracked by a mixture of grunge and rock music which gives the production an explosive injection of energy. The contemporary aesthetic is underpinned by the costumes worn by Verona’s youngsters – Fred Perry, Doc Martens and Converse.

Sophie Melville’s Juliet, wearing a bleached blonde Eighties crop, is all girlish vulnerability, verging on the manic as she dashes through those iconic lines of dialogue. Chris Gordon’s Romeo is a toned, conventional looker who lacks the dangerous edge that makes Romeo a more compelling character. Scott Reid’s Mercutio is a snarling, sordid Scotsman, reminiscent of Robert Carlyle’s Begbie from Trainspotting. Sean O’Callaghan’s Friar provides the booming words of wisdom whilst Sara Lloyd-Gregory’s raunchy Lady Capulet is all too convincingly self-centred.

The production picks up pace markedly during the second half. O’Riordan has directed an energetic and accessible interpretation of Romeo and Juliet which will speak to both to a wider audience and to GCSE students who will see Shakespeare anew at a reborn Sherman Cymru.

Sophie Melville’s Juliet, wearing the bleached blonde Eighties crop, is all girlish vulnerability, verging on the manic

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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