The new season at Shakespeare's Globe begins with a youthful presentation of Romeo and Juliet.
The new young stars Adetomiwa Edun (Romeo) and Ellie Kendrick (Juliet) have a great responsibility on their shoulders as they lead a more experienced cast in a play filled with contemporary resonance.
The scene is set among the stalls, traders and idlers of Verona market with the cocky Montague and Capulet youths swaggering and fighting. As soon as Romeo meets Juliet they are smitten. The ripple effects of their love affair run tragically through both families and beyond.
Press night was just a week after opening – I think a few more performances are needed to bring the play to life and for the sword fights to exude a sense of anger and menace.
Romeo attracts with his good looks and easy movement around the stage and Juliet with her unfussy direct speech. They make a handsome if artless couple. But they do not ratchet up the tragedy as the play's action progresses from Sunday to Wednesday.
Montague and Capulet senior (Michael O'Hagan and Ian Redford) bring gravitas and dignity. The Yorkshire Nurse (Penny Layden) delights with her chattering and Friar Lawrence (Rawiri Paratene) is much more audible than some of the cast. Spurned by Juliet, Paris (Tom Stuart) is a bit of a wimp.
The attractive music is devised by Nigel Hess and sensitively performed by William Lyons and his men using contemporary Italian street music as inspiration. The final jig, a standard feature of Globe productions, must be hard when you have lain dead, motionless on the stage for some time and is suitably restrained, with all taking their share of the applause.
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