Theatre in the Forest turns Romeo and Juliet into a colourful 1960s seaside postcard
PUBLISHED: 12:55 05 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:55 05 August 2019
Review: Romeo and Juliet, by William Shakespeare, Red Rose Chain, Jimmy's Farm, Wherstead; until August 25
In these divided and uncertain days, Red Rose Chain's outdoor production at Jimmy's Farm of Romeo and Juliet absolutely hits the spot. Bursting at the seams with wit, intelligence and energy, Jo Carrick's interpretation has a beautiful lightness of touch that makes this oldest of stories suddenly feel like a breath of fresh air.
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In the mind's eyes of the memory, 60s Britain, where the production is set gives us the colour, music with vintage visual delights galore, like a seaside postcard. But these glory days also hint at the tragedy and violence from the start. A Punch and Judy booth, fittingly delivers the bad news prologue and cleverly with the crocodile doubles up as the apothecary. Juliet's age of 14 is not glossed over but confronted playfully by pointedly making Paris - Juliet's suitor Elvis and Jerry Lee Lewis like.
Jo Carrick's adaptation is pacey without losing poignancy. When we drift away from the bard's words via James Bond, Psycho and most brilliantly Spartacus the humour makes the tragedy seem more real and greater for it.
The ensemble cast, as ever in Red Rose Chain productions, are outstanding. Alis Duff as the Nurse has a huge presence throughout. As darkness descends in the second half, Soroosh Lavansi as Lord Capulet intensely matches this. Jack Heydon as Romeo and Emily Rose as Juliet are a believable match. Doubling up as Tybalt and Father Lawrence Luke Wilson achieves a duality that adds to the contrasts within the play itself. And as Mercutio, Darren Latham's Queen Mab speech re-imagined as a 60s rock song is, in fact a good enough reason alone to go and see this show.
So, cliché or not, I will end on: do yourself a favour this summer and see this production.