Romeo & Juliet – June 2014 – Theatre Bath/Listomania

Shakespeare in the Green Park Theatre Bath Following the success of The Rondo Theatre Company and Bath Drama’s joint production of a Midsummer Night’s Dream in a new location at Green Park Station last year, it seemed a given that they would follow with this year’s show in the same location. Romeo and Juliet follows the tragic story of two young lovers (played by Ashley Shiers and Annayah Prosser) who, forbidden to love each other by a long running feud between the Montague and Capulet family, meet their tragic end. Set in a world of 1980s Punk Rock, this tale is visually exciting, with an interesting choice of music. We get to witness a party where the cast dance to Adam Ant’s ‘Prince Charming’, as well as some live music from Romeo and his guitar. The set was minimal, with just a few chairs, a wooden screen and a three piece bench. All of these doubled as interesting objects, from the balcony to the alter where the two lovers meet their grisly end. We get to meet a range of colourful characters in this lively retelling of one of Shakespeare’s most well loved tragedies. A brilliant reimagining of Lady Capulet (played by Charlotte Howard) a pill popping, gin drinking, useless mother kept the audience giggling, while Adrian Philpott’s portrayal of Lord Capulet was strong and subtle. Standout performances came from Christopher Constantine, who played Mercutio with both humour and unrivalled stage presence. Ashley Shiers’ performance was also extraordinarily strong – he brought a new sense of depth to Romeo’s usual fickle portrayal. The only issue with performing outside is that a fair amount of lines are often lost, particularly from the ensemble cast. There are a lot of factors that add to this issue at Green Park Station – people walking past, the large car park, and the bar next to the space. The general gist is still grasped by an audience, but more projection from some of the cast is needed while performing outdoors. Grasey Mayes Listomania Over the years there have been numerous different productions, adaptations, variations and versions of R&J but it’s a good bet that never before have the Montagues and Capulets been portrayed as Punks and New Romantics.  And never before has the background music been by Adam Ant, Frankie Goes To Hollywood and Dire Straits. So this is really an innovative production, fast-paced (cut to about two hours) and never boring, particularly when Chris Constantine (Mercutio) is on stage.  He grabs the part by the throat, revelling in it. Ashley Shiers as Romeo has great stage presence too, “My only love, sprung from my only hate,” as Juliet (Annayah Prosser) says. Costumes are good, scenery minimal, fight scenes well choreographed and last year’s problems with audibility are largely overcome by moving the set, rearranging seating and cutting out amplification. Thus, even if there never was a story of more woe, this is a great evening out with rarely a dull moment and a terrific cast. And it is at a venue that now seems can be made to work – plus there’s a good bar and interval refreshments on hand. What more do you want? Philip Horton