‘A rose, by any other name would still be as sweet’… Director Amy Leach’s modern retelling of this timeless love story may have kept the name, but this dazzling reinterpretation challenges everything we think we know about Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, casting off the shackles of tradition and throwing its audience head first into an intense, passionate and touching tale of turmoil and true love.
Initially, the difference between this contemporary adaptation and its original is quite surreal; in keeping the Shakespearean language style there is immediately a distinct contrast between language and imagery. The simplistic yet beautiful set design is juxtaposed with harsh lighting and intense sound, perhaps a scenographic representation of the clash between Montague and Capulet. The use of high end technologies and pop-culture references scattered among the lyrical Shakespearean language ensures that this is a production to inspire any age group, carrying ever-relevant themes with a modern twist.
The works of Shakespeare have always carried throughout them classic themes relevant at any point in history, although this tale of a broken community is more relevant than ever today. In relation to younger generations, Shakespeare has often been regarded as being out of touch with the times. However, the inclusion of the Young People’s Company involves them in a much more integrated, hands-on manner. It is delightful to see the passion and professionalism present within the company, and to see so many young people enjoying such a classic story in a way made relevant to them.
The performances of Romeo (Dan Parr) and Juliet (Tessa Parr) are touching and emotional, showing the changing attitudes of two love-struck teens forced to grow up too fast in a modern world full of danger and hate. Dan Parr’s boyish and excitable portrayal leaves you laughing one moment and close to tears the next, while Tessa Parr’s childlike, innocent representation of Juliet really tugs at the heartstrings with incredible character development from a vulnerable child to a strong young woman torn between family ties and true love.
Definitely worth a mention is Elexi Walker’s outstanding portrayal of Mercutio and her counterpart Lawrence Walker as Benvolio; the pair bring some much needed light hearted comedic relief to the performance – again a far stretch from the traditional expectations of the story, but engaging the audience and making the tragedy and turmoil towards the end of the first act and into the second seem much more intense and heartfelt.
Overall, this production is one not to be missed. Suitable for all and enthralling from beginning to end, this will change the way you see Shakespeare forever. 5/5
Review written by Hazel Hinchcliffe.
Romeo and Juliet is currently showing at West Yorkshire Playhouse until Saturday 25th March 2017. For more information on the production, visit here…