Romeo and Juliet – Review

Have you ever wondered what a Shakespeare play would be like if you set it in a Peaky Blinders setting and through in some Northern accents? Not really, me neither but what I will tell you is that you might be surprised by how great of a combination it can be. 

Romeo and Juliet has always been a Shakespeare drama that I’ve enjoyed and found it is a piece that makes you think. I hadn’t seen the film or an adaptation for a long time so went in to it with a open mind but also a bit concerned that I might not be able to fully understand what was happening.

That concern kind of left me at the opening scene which was created from the great mind of Anna Dobson who took inspiration from BBC’s Peaky Blinders and set our famous star crossed lover in a time just after the First World War. It was a bit strange to think of Romeo and Juliet not in the tradition Italian setting but it was great to see the Montagues and the Capulets in a location that was new but fitting for this bloodthirsty tragedy. The set on stage was something that I hadn’t seen from a Romeo and Juliet set before. It was created from pallets and was very simple but set the story up great. 

The opening scene give me that little bit of butterflies as the famous opening lines ‘Two households, both alike in dignity, In fair Verona, where we lay our scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean’ came out of a 1920’s radio and that’s it where it all started. 

The Capulets walked on stage in there smart 1920’s suits and straight away you can see they are ready for business and then we start to see the Montagues who are in 3 piece tweed suits. The wardrobe by Sarah Pearson captures the environment and the personalities of these 2 family perfectly. The little details of the Motagues having caps and pulling whiskey bottles out of there jacket pockets and being very casual about life to the Capulets being very smart and strait laced in their pinstripe suits and ties.

Anna Dobson had a great cast with Mercutio (Richard Jack) and Nurse (Pat Haggerty) being 2 of my favourite character. Pat’s portrayal of the Nurse was amazing. Her timing with comedic lines were spot on and her mannerism just had me laughing the whole time (like when she steals the bottle of alcohol from Friar Laurence). Richard Jack’s performance of Mercutio is for me by far my favourite. He was a character I was intrigued by and wanted to find out more about through out the play. Richard performance expressing Mercutio’s passion for the Montague family and for his friendship with Romeo was outstanding. 

The fight scenes that we all know about from our GSCE days are shown in a different light with Anna playing the fight scenes out in a slow motion style and focusing on them 2 fertile blows that spilt our star crossed loved apart. 

Craig Fairbairn (Romeo) and Emma Jane Richards (Juliet) get you invested in their story, they make you want a happy ending for them even with you knowing that due to their background that they can never escape the hatred that the families have for each other. Emma plays the innocent Juliet true to her character with her falling head over heals in love with this young man that she see from across the room and forgetting her place in the family and the importance of her role within the family (marrying the Noble man Paris). Craig plays the witty and merry Romeo like a young man that has no care in the world and you can see from his performance that he is fully invested in the devotion that Romeo had for Juliet. 

What else is there to say but this is a performance that I would definitely recommend seeing if you can get tickets. If you’re a Shakespeare fanatic this will be a great piece that makes you think deep about the themes of Romeo and Juliet and how that even a piece of theatre that was written 100’s of years ago still has themes within todays society. If you not a Shakespeare lover then I would say this might be you rethink that and make you more intrigued in what Shakespeare has to offer as a story teller. 

Romeo and Juliet is running until the 6th October 2018 at The People Theatre in Heaton and a great opportunity to support a community theatre. 

Review Written by Melissa Marshall from www.melissajanemarshall.co.uk