Romeo and Juliet - Theatre Review

Teenage kicks and hormonal passion blow fluffy romance out of the water in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s high octane ROMEO & JULIET at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm Road, NW1

ROMEO and Juliet so often portrays its leading lovers floating in the ethereal grasp of romance rather than the vice-like clutches of fiery passion.

But the Royal Shakespeare Company’s new production, directed by Rupert Goold in trademark high octane style, blows fluffy romance out of the water.

Our young Juliet clad in denim dress and Converse boots and her Dr Martin wearing Romeo transform themselves into the epitome of hormonal youth, while the rest of the cast remain in traditional Elizabethan costume. The staging elegantly allows the Shakespearean premise of warring houses to remain while bringing a very modern leading couple to the stage.

All the unbelievable speed of Romeo and Juliet’s lusty romance is brought to the fore as their tempestuous personalities drive doomed love. Mariah Gale as Juliet delivers a captivating, urban and gritty performance that is just pure original, and while Sam Troughton as Romeo is every bit the bumbling teenage dreamer, his performance doesn’t quite have the same pow.


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The Roundhouse is magnificently transformed into a near copy of The Globe for this RSC season and Goold’s production bursts onto the stage with all the throbbing pulse of an illegal rave. A devilish Jonjo O’Neill is a wonderfully bawdy Mercutio and a Bacchanalian party to the hypnotic beat of drums is the standout scene as the star crossed lovers first exchange glances.

There is plenty of innovation here, but the production loses momentum after the interval and fails to live up to its early rapid tempo. And, as the wider cast move into modern dress at the end of the play, too many new ideas are thrown out in quick succession for all but the most avid Shakespearean. However there is a genuine spark of originality in this gothicly flamboyant production and the heat of teenage romance burns vividly.

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* Showing at the Roundhouse in Chalk Farm Road, NW1 until Saturday, January 1

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