The Globe on tour presents Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet at Cambridge Arts Theatre until Saturday July 4: Review by GEORGIA HINGSTON
- Credit: Archant
Shakespeare’s classic tale of love and violence has been rehashed so many times and in so many different ways it is an exceptionally hard script to make seem fresh.
Yet the touring production by Shakespeare’s Globe, directed by Dominic Dromgoole and Tim Hoare, brings a zest and innocence to the well worn story.
Based around the concept of the ‘strolling players’ the show opens with the cast, strumming mandolins and rattling tambourines, strolling around the auditorium and chatting with the audience before bursting into a somewhat eccentric song complete with accordion and flamenco dancing.
Samuel Valentine and Cassie Layton make an endearingly innocent and awkward couple as Romeo and Juliet. Clumsy on-stage kisses evoke the conflict between youthful innocence and the newfound passion the lovers are unsure what to do with.
Layton’s embarrassment and gawky girlishness in the famous balcony scene, on realising Romeo has overheard her effusions of love, is so genuine the audience cannot help giggling in empathy.
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There is also something refreshing in Valentine’s love-struck performance to which he lends a dazed awe and tenderness.
Fast paced and furious the cast multirole (all except for the lovers) by donning a variety of coats, cloaks and dresses, and scenes move into and over each other.
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However, for those who don’t know the story well, this becomes borderline confusing. The audience is occasionally left unsure of which characters are occupying each scene simultaneously playing out in the same space.
Steffan Donnelly gives a swaggering performance as a bare chested, tattoo toting Mercutio whose brazen physical comedy has the audience both laughing and gasping at its bawdiness.
It is a shame his energetic performance is rather dampened by dying off stage rather than going out with a bang in the arms of a raging Romeo.
Sarah Higgins also gives a garrulous performance as the nurse, augmented by a thick Scottish accent making her dialogue almost delightfully undecipherable.
Unfortunately, the production seems to lose some of its energy and cohesiveness towards the end, and the death scene between the lovers lacks emotional punch.
The audience’s emotional compass is further pulled around by the deceased couple jumping up and performing a tango before the final curtain call.
Overall, Shakespeare’s Globe gives an endearing performance with nuanced interpretations of characters difficult to reinvent. It is just a pity both the pace and performers begin to lose their way as the story reaches its tragic peak.
The show runs at Cambridge Arts Theatre to Saturday, July 4, at 7.45pm. Tickets cost £15-£30 and are available to purchase online at www.cambridgeartstheatre.com or by phone on 01223 503333.