Theatre Review: Romeo And Juliet

Originally published in Venue, issue 829. Venue’s teaser for Globe Touring’s upcoming performance of A Winter’s Tale in Bristol describes the show I review below as “triumphant”, so apparently my editor would have bumped the final score up by a star.

Globe Touring: Romeo And Juliet

The play might have a rep for romance, but the love story is the palest part of this outdoor Romeo and Juliet. Alan Morrissey and Dominique Bull in the leads come off second best to the physical comedy of their respective foils – a dashing, clowning Mercutio in the shape of Nitzan Sharron, and Marsha Henry’s bawdy, bustling nurse (although by casting the one black actor as a big smutty servant, the production picks up an unsavoury tang of Gone With The Wind). An emphasis on broad comedy and low violence keeps the play brisk and sharp, even though the lovers’ lack of spark means you occasionally forget just why everyone is rushing headlong to the crypt.

After nightfall, the production picks up atmosphere for the last two acts. The staging (featuring a VW Camper and two strings of fairy lights) becomes transformative in the dark, and the venue – an old bowling green, sunken and secluded – comes to life. The leads’ awkward imitation of teenage infatuation gives way to a much more satisfying portrayal of desperation, and the pall-bearing finale is almost a tear-jerker. But so long as you remember the umbrella and the picnic, there’s really no need to cry.