Romeo and Juliet

Theatre

Outdoor theatre

Various venues

Until Mon Aug 12 2013

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Toby Rosenbloom

Love is certainly in the open air this summer thanks to this new version of Romeo & Juliet. The show is on tour to no less than 30 outdoor venues, so take a look to see if it’s playing near you soon – and make sure to get your tickets. I saw the show – a stripped back version of the famous love story – at the intimate Kensington Roof Gardens in London on Monday (12 August), delivered from a small, circular space surrounded by the audience. It must have been daunting to tinker with the script of one of Shakespeare’s best-loved works, but director Maddy Kerr pulls it off by making sure the play’s sense of the ridiculous stays central to the dialogue. She also replaces traditional costumes with football shirts. Yes, that’s right. I said football shirts! Sometimes even less than that – in his Romeo character Ben Burnham took the stripped back theme of the production to a new level by ditching his sports gear in favour of a white singlet for the first half of the performance. And if that still hasn’t piqued your interest, picture this: a cast of five, looking a bit like Sunday league players, all taking on multiple roles. A very convincing Juliet indeed, Phillipa Flynn may have been allowed a costume befitting that of a tragic heroine, but the football theme is never far away. She, too, joins in the football theme when taking on the role of Peter in scenes that turn into an unexpected highlight thanks to the impeccable comic timing of Howard Scott Walker as Nurse. I’m sure you’ve picked up what I’m trying to say here: this show has heart-warming humour running all the way through it. And the cast’s ability to poke a bit of fun at themselves breathes a unique freshness into Heartbreak’s production and catapults it firmly into the ‘must-see’ bracket. I’m sure the Bard himself would be delighted. I only wish I’d bought a season ticket.

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