Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Romeo and Juliet

We were treated to an evening out on Monday - Romeo and Juliet at the just-reopened Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford. From my tour last December, I knew already how extensive the rebuilding has been. And very impressive it is also for its main purpose of presenting Shakespeare! My seat was in the back row of the Circle right at the side, no distance from the stage. The balcony scene took place just below me, and it mattered not at all that I couldn't see the back wall. Possibly, though, I wouldn't wish to sit any higher up.

The exhilarating production by Rupert Goold disturbed me, though it clearly entranced the Worcester school party alongside me. Goold deliberately alienates us with a mixture of period and modern dress, and an unconventionally plain-looking (grunge being their motif) pair of lovers. His cast throws away many beautiful lines, or plays them against their normal dramatic sense. The programme book contains just a couple of essays, on martyrdom and suicide, which threw little light for me on the production's values or its intended relationship to previous interpretations.

Altogether, the evening lacked a sense of history, which for the reopening of such an historically important place of theatre was disconcerting.

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