Romeo and Juliet is not just Shakespeare’s most famous play, but also one of the most legendary plays in the world. It’s been adapted into numerous films, the musical West Side Story, television programmes as well as countless stage productions globally. So, to stage it with such innovation and dynamism as the West Yorkshire Playhouse have is something truly special.
Amy Leach, the director, creates a world where a centuries-old narrative of love and hate is resonant in our contemporary society. Her vision subtly encapsulates the divide of the nation over Brexit and other recent events in a personal story of two families and their ancient feud. The set is bare, urban and inviting disaster with its ugly concrete levels that offer a glimmer of life in the colourful flowers that rise from the gutter. The blaring passion of the summer sun was created by the ginormous spotlight at the back of the stage.
Her vision subtly encapsulates the divide of the nation over Brexit and other recent events in a personal story of two families and their ancient feud
The ensemble move with real energy throughout, and their space costumes and dancing during the party scene is hilarious. Elexi Walker playing Mercutio is gripping to watch, her stage presence is booming and her comedy natural. Her sexual bantering with Benvolio, played by delightfully by Lawrence Walker, provides the perfect comic relief needed before the tragic end of the play we all dread. Walker’s fight scene with Tachia Newall, playing Tybalt, is intense and the physical theatre and use of blood is gripping and realistic.
As for the lovers, they play the charming and innocent flirts superbly. Dan Parr, as Romeo, creates a cheeky, besotted lover who displays moments of heart-warming comedy with his youthful flirting techniques and dramatic outcries of yearning. Tessa Parr, playing Juliet, is his perfect partner as she responds in an equally inexperienced and lovably giddy way. The way they use their body language to portray a simultaneous hesitant and desirable relationship is masterfully done and creates a picture of the youthful innocent couple. This later intensifies the grief of their tragic deaths. Tessa Parr’s final devastating monologue is enthralling and the audience remained in perfect silence throughout, hanging on her every word.
The way they use their body language to portray a simultaneous hesitant and desirable relationship is masterfully done and creates a picture of the youthful innocent couple
Overall, this production of Romeo and Juliet is a harmony of the traditional and modern narrative and creates a spirit of playful comedy as well as youthful tragedy.
The production is running until 25th March, and if you’ve got a night free before the Easter holidays then it’s the perfect entertainment.
Image courtesy of West Yorkshire Playhouse