Romeo and Juliet

Theatre, Shakespeare
3 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars
(9user reviews)
 (© Robert Workman)
© Robert Workman Kirsty Bushell (Juliet) and Edward Hogg (Romeo)
 (© Robert Workman)
© Robert WorkmanHarish Patel (Friar Lawrence) and Edward Hogg (Romeo)
 (© Robert Workman)
© Robert WorkmanGareth Snook (Lord Capulet) and Ricky Champ (Tybalt)
 (© Robert Workman)
© Robert WorkmanBlythe Duff (Nurse)
 (© Robert Workman)
© Robert WorkmanKirsty Bushell (Juliet) and Edward Hogg (Romeo)

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

Daniel Kramer directs a pumped up production of the star-crossed romance

You would have to have been exiled to Verona to be unaware of the Globe’s recent troubles, wherein its artistic director Emma Rice – who only started last year – has been forced out by the theatre’s board, who objected to her penchant for using electric lights and amplified sound in the replica Elizabethan theatre.

She was, however, allowed one more outdoor season, and it’s hard not to gleefully fantasise that its opener ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – directed by new ENO boss Daniel Kramer – as one almighty fuck you to the board. I doubt Rice would be so petty, but clearly this show embodies everything that freaked the board out. It’s hard to quite imagine which bit they’d like the least, though I’d probably put a flutter on the Capulet ball scene, in which the outlandishly dressed cast – Capulet Snr is wearing an amazing dinosaur costume – launch into a very, very amplified rendition of ‘YMCA’ underneath a gigantic glitterball.

Kramer has rendered Shakespeare’s passionate love story as a sort of savagely ironic vaudeville, in which a cast of white-faced grotesques – many notably older than the usual casting – enact the Bard’s tale of star-crossed lovers with a sort of surreal, vicious sarcasm.

It is punk as fuck and often very funny, bristling with energy and clever, witty little ideas (the actor playing the Capulets’ dog, for starters), even if there is the sense that Kramer is as concerned with trolling us as moving us.

Edward Hogg’s sulky emo Romeo is all gothy fringe and exaggerated Kevin the Teenager mannerisms. But rescuing things from total arched-eyebrow overload is Kirsty Bushell, wonderful as a loud, awkward, oversharing Juliet. She’s funny, but also brings a raw, unvarnished emotional heft, a wholesome gawkiness that stands out from the outright weirdness that surrounds her.

It’s surely destined to be divisive, and even its admirers will concede it’s a bit emotionally distant. But Kramer subtly ramps down the weirdness in the second half, and dammit if that final death scene didn’t get me misty-eyed, the show’s berserk energies grounding themselves in an intense pulse of pure, clear tragedy.


Users say (9)

2 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

2.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:3
  • 3 star:0
  • 2 star:4
  • 1 star:2
2 people listening

Such a disappointing adaption. 'Juliet' was far too old to be cast, but I would be willing to overlook that if she wasn't such a crass, sour version. No magic, no love between these what can only best be described as cheap hotel light crossed lovers.

Contrary to most of the reviews below, I really enjoyed this interpretation. I hadn't seen Romeo and Juliet performed before, or even the movie, but I was able to follow along easily enough. A fabulous night out, even in the rain!

Really disappointed with this take on Romeo and Juliet. Although I got a few chuckles in here and there, for the most part I was offended by the vulgarity of it all. I'm all for dirty jokes and sexuality being weaved into a storyline, but this version tries way too hard to be crude and to pervert Shakespeare in a way that is supposed to come off as edgy and convoluted but ends up being pretty cringe. What a pity that this was such a flop. It takes a lot of work to make a story this beautiful unenjoyable but I think they've done it here.

I thought this was great! Definitely not your traditional play, but nonetheless, very funny, slightly bonkers and highly entertaining. The musical choices were really good, and the addition of a man with nipple tassels only improved things in my view. As did the YMCA! Also, you can't really go wrong for a fiver, so even if you hate it, no problem!

I am by no means a purist nor can I definitively speak for William Shakespeare but I get the feeling he would be turning in his grave at Y.M.C.A. being attached to his work. It's easy to highlight that as an obvious error but it's simply one of many. There are very few characters who come away with any credit, most of the key dialogue is shouted, there is little discernible chemistry between Romeo & Juliet. In saying all this, I went with a group of friends who all loved it, so what do I know...

 Horrifying. An offence to all good taste. Every line was screamed rather than said. It appears nobody understood what they said because the body language matched the words roughly one every two hundred times. Slapstick galore, to the point in which someone should have gotten sued. I walked out and not even at the interval. 

I will give them this: they found a way to make Mercutio detestable, which is quite an achievement, but in a bad way

Think Burlesque meets Billy Smart’s Circus and you’re halfway there. Clumsy camp drag with a touch of the macabre bizarre. Baseball bats replaced swords, the props department had bought a job lot of bowler hats and for some unfathomable reason the whole stage was swaggering with Marcel Marceau lookalikes.

I could cope with the fact that the star cross’d lovers were about twenty years older than Shakespeare had intended , that the sound levels in the opening scene were abysmally distorted and that my deep seated fear of clowns was about to be tested to the limit but what I couldn’t cope with was the clumsy and amatuerish depiction of what the director ( Daniel Kramer ) claimed to be his dystopian interpretation of this famous tale. Oh, do me a favour.

I lost patience with the overlaying of scenes which must have proven confusing to the huddled ranks of rain-sodden Year 11 students , desperate for a bit of last minute pre-GCSE revision and the sorry doubling up of actors playing more than one role was inexcusable. Lady Capulet’s mock drunken post-party hangover act was more reminscent of an over-played drama student’s performance from the seventies and as for Paris , words fail me. The gold body paint and matching Doc Martens did little to salvage his wimpish performance.

The Ozzie chap sat next to me aptly summed it up on departure – ” A bit of a mash-up ” and that was putting it mildly.

I enjoyed this and it is a gorgeous production with terrific performances from the leads but not quite as sharp as the stunning Midsummer Night's Dream. The audience certainly lapped it up and it is heartening to see so many young people rapt by Shakespeare. I think if you liked Midsummer Night's Dream, you will enjoy this but purists may dislike some of the amusing touches and conceits which mark out Emma Rice's Globe. Probably 3.5 stars but it delighted my daughter, so half star extra for her.

Good, not great. Tragically, although this production is beautiful, it overindulges in comedy which is unrelated to, and often works at cross purposes with, the script. Emma Rice's Globe loves to remind us that Shakespeare was not stuffy, and brings the base physicality of his humor to life wonderfully. But this production wastes the opportunities of his script by dwelling on slapstick comedy involving arbitrary animal costumes which go nowhere thematically, a painful and overlong rendition of the song 'YMCA,' and strange, overexcited scream-acting from ancillary characters. The audience seemed amused and happy, but I thought the whole thing was just too much. And really, I'm not old or stuffy. 

The commentary the production makes on an oversexed and violent modern culture is poignant but poorly executed. The Globe is always fun, but I hope they will bring more discipline and a little strategic restraint to the rest of this season.  

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