Romeo & Juliet
Romeo and Juliet is
probably the best known and most hackneyed love
story in English Literature.
Birmingham Repertory Company has elected to tell
it in a straightforward manner with no frills.
Bill Brydens muscular and brisk production
of the tale was well suited by Hayden
Griffins austere set, a bare stage with an
ingenious superstructure which emerged from the
rear for the interior scenes. This forced the
actors to create the reality of the scenes by
their performances which by and large they did
with great success.
with any production of this play, the focus is on
the two lovers and I dont intend to add to
the plethora of opinions as to whether or not it
is reasonable to have actors with something
approximating the characters age with
minimum acting experience, or whether it should
be played by actors with the scope and ability to
encompass the verse, if not the characters
Bryden opted for the first opinion with a Romeo,
Jamie Doyle, making his professional stage debut
and a Juliet, Anjali Jay, with a little more
experience but still young. Both these young
actors coped extremely well, giving a
street cred reading to the roles
which fitted in with the overall rough and ready
telling of the story which had been opted for.
one lost some of the poetry in this conception of
the roles, at least the intense romance was
preserved and gave some credibility to the
melodramatic finale of the play.
Doyle, in particular, handled his lines with
skill and made his Romeo a young, coltish yet
endearing boy who falls for a pretty face without
realising the consequences.
occasions, particularly in the second act, he
managed to give the role back its poetry without
losing his overall concept of the character which
I found impressive. He certainly justified Mr
Brydens selection of him and I look forward
to seeing how he and his career develop as I
suspect it will be well worth watching.
Jay did not quite impress me as much. She read
her lines well but her Juliet was too
little girly for my taste. I felt if
she thought a little less about the
acting and was more spontaneous she would
have been a better counterpart for Mr Doyle. But
it is a difficult role and I thought that, given
my expressed reservation, she coped well.
did the rest of the cast, although one had to
admit that the two featured players deserved
their billing. Su Pollard was a down to earth
Nurse; the fact that her previous job and
experience in some renaissance holiday camp had
left its mark on her bustling movements and forms
of speech did not detract from the warmth and
sincerity she brought to the role.
Evans she was not, and all the better for it, I
say. Her playing of the part fitted in with the
carry-on in Verona as portrayed by Mr Bryden and
very good she was in it.
Harper, too, showed what an experienced thespian
can make of Friar Lawrence. This was no bumbling
cleric but a sincere churchman with compassion
and authority. His handling of the situation was
that of an understanding schoolmaster faced with
a difficult problem in the classroom and his
distress when the solution went wrong was
understandable; a lovely performance.
is perhaps invidious to single out any of the
other well played performances. Keoran Flynn was
a fine upstanding Montague which matched Simon
Scotts Capulet. Both their ladies were well
represented by Wendy Morgan as a fire-eating Lady
Capulet and Mary Ryder as a more understanding
Lady Montague; Mercutio and Tybalt were made
excellent sparring partners by Gus Gallagher and
Daniel Williams. In fact, a fine cast who played
their part, whether big or small, well.
should I suppose be made of Mr Brydens coup
de theatre in making the Prince of Verona a voice
from above with the sonorous yet mellifluous
tones of Sir Donald Sinden but this was just one
of the many directorial touches which went to
give lustre to the production. My only
reservation is that I found the opening street
brawl a little to close to home in view of some
of the recent unhappy events on the London
streets but perhaps I am a little too
in all this was a good, well played,
understandable evening of theatre and, judging
from the applause at the end from a mostly school
aged audience, one that is very acceptable to the
next generation of theatre goers.
know if I were doing the play for my
GCE this production would be all that I would
need to make sense of Mr. Shakespeares
doomed love story; a good mark to all concerned!
by David Munro