Penny Flood reviews Shakespeare's R& J at The Tabard Theatre
This production by Forbear Theatre takes a look at what happens when art and life overlap
This is a play within a play, an interesting, very effective take on Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet, as four teenage boys discover there's more to life than algebra after getting hold of a copy of the book.
The boys, James Burman, Alexander Morris, Richard Hall and Jeremy Franklin, live a tightly regimented life in a public school where they recite Latin verbs, say their prayers and are taught old fashioned ideas about women.
But it all changes when they retire to their dormitory, that's when they can start to have fun. They're going to act out Romeo & Juliet with each of them taking multiple roles. Naturally this includes the female roles - Juliet, her nurse and her mother as well as the occasional servant, just as it would have been played in Shakespeare's time .
At first it's a laugh, and they're puppyish in their enthusiasm, the opening scene is funny, and they throw themselves into the action. It's loud, fast and frenetic with some terrific fight scenes, but it doesn't stay like that. As the play goes on, the atmosphere changes and things becomes less light hearted. The deeper they get into the play, the more the boys realise that there's more to life, love and sex than anything they've been told or have experienced; a revelation that affects them all in different ways, not least in the dynamics of their relationships with each other. Now, they're not just reciting Shakespeare's lines, they're absorbing them, blurring the lines between fiction and reality.
This makes it particularly interesting for the audience because instead of watching a story about something that happened in Verona a long time ago, we're watching it in the here and now in real time. The boys aren't playing at Romeo & Juliet, they're living it, right to the end where tension is electrifying.
It's powerful stuff.
A great big well done to the four boys and to Christopher Harvey who directed it as well as sorting out the lighting and the sound.
The show runs from 30 June - 8th August
30 June - 8 August 2015
Tue - Sat 7:30pm
Sat Matinees 4pm
Sun Matinee 2pm
The performance lasts two hours including a 15 minute interval
July 10, 2015