Many consider Romeo and Juliet as Shakespeare's most timeless play of forbidden love amongst feuding families, and Here to There Productions, thrusting the 400 year old play to the rocking 50s, proves this point with aplomb where crow bars replace swords and swinging soul singers replace the harp at masked balls.
Entering the theatre, you could be mistaken for walking into a performance of West Side Story, scaffolding with bright blue beams running down them tower over the darkened stage. This most certainly sets the tone for the modern adaptation, along with the rock band performing an original score, which is certainly in-keeping with the 50s theme with some brilliant music. Sometimes, however, the music did overpower Shakespeare’s most beautiful soliloquies, particularly the balcony scene. This being said, the band were a particular highlight of the production.
The opening shows the first clash between the Montagues and Capulets, involving a brilliantly directed fight scene, but with accents ranging from American to British, it is hard to initially establish its setting. Once recognised as 1950’s Britain, the show begins to pick up speed.
Ewan Gibb as Capulet gave a particularly notable performance, his clear communication to the audience about the message Shakespeare intended, was shown through his fantastic characterisation of the corrupt character. Romeo, played by Alex Curry held himself well onstage, however a slightly lighter tone on scenes with Juliet would have showed a greater divide between head and heart towards the beginning of the production. That said, his performance blossomed, as did his relationship with Juliet - played by Hannah Pritchard, her innocent yet headstrong character made her a Juliet more fitting for the 50s.
Alex Lacey gave a scene stealing performance as The Nurse, with a character akin to Alice Tinker from The Vicar of Dibley, the audiences eyes were transfixed to her whenever entering the stage and her physical and vocal comedic skills showed excellently throughout her small but albeit crucial role.
Here to There’s production of Romeo and Juliet skillfully transferred seamlessly to a 1950s setting, illustrating as plain as ever that the story of star-crossed lovers is as relevant as ever in society. A challenging production told brilliantly.
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