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ORT Report: Romeo and Juliet

Shakespeare’s classic tragic love story – Romeo and Juliet – placed in a medieval setting.

The National Production Company takes the universally recognised tale of ‘star-crossed lovers’, first published in 1597, and makes it an entertaining and enjoyable experience for a modern audience, with an age range from elderly couples to school children.

Although Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet was originally set during the Renaissance in Venice, the National Production Company decide to put a twist on the original story, by transporting the audience to a medieval setting instead. This is done through the use of costumes, props and even traditional medieval music, which is played at the beginning of the play, and comes back at different points throughout.

The play was led by Samuel Wall as Romeo and Ashleigh Dickinson as Juliet. Wall played a convincing Romeo, portraying all sides of the character: romantic, humorous, serious, heartbroken, with Dickinson also living up to the character of Juliet. Both Wall and Dickinson showed chemistry, not only with each other but in showing their relationship with other characters.

This production decided to switch the gender of some characters, and so Benvolio and Lord Capulet were played by actresses Tabitha Wells and Christine Harte, who both gave a feminine touch to the originally male characters extremely well. Harte in particular was an exceptional performer in the play - her performance was outstanding in her delivery of lines and her presence on stage, inflicting her dominance over characters. Harte’s performance was so spectacular that it was hard to remember that those lines were originally for Juliet’s father, rather than the mother. Another stand-out performer who stole the show was Kelly Hale. Her hilarious interpretation of the nurse had the audience in fits of laughter, her comedic timing and facial expressions being spot on. James Tanton played Romeo’s other friend, Mercutio, and his outrageously over-the-top take on the character had the audience chuckling in their seats.

In the programme, the director, James Tanton (Mercutio), dedicates a page for ‘Director’s notes’, with the opening line "I hate Romeo and Juliet". Further down, he goes on to say "And yet, on directing the play for the second time I have found a new love for what is a gritty, fast-paced and exciting love story with more themes still relevant today than you could fling a rejected Brexit deal at".

Tanton, along with the whole cast and production team manage to replicate the ‘gritty, fast-paced and exciting’ nature of the story, creating a performance that is entertaining for a 21st century audience of all ages.

Mimi, BOA Year 12 Musical Theatre