Romeo and Juliet
has arrived at Wales Millennium Centre this month and I couldn’t wait
to see it! My mother and I hopped on the train to Cardiff Bay and had a
bite to eat before heading over in good time for the performance.
It was so nice to have some mother/daughter time, and we chatted a lot about what we thought may or may not happen, with no real idea of what to really expect (which I always think is a really good thing!).
The performance begins within the public areas of the centre, so my first piece of advice is to follow the actors; wherever they go ,you go, until you reach the theatre. Don’t be surprised by the reaction from the public; we saw some great reactions and I really liked the shock value!
At this point you are led to the theatre where it continues to be an immersive piece of beauty and heatbreak.
I adore Romeo and Juliet for so many reasons; star-crossed lovers, two opposing families and the most heartbreaking ending to any tale of love I’ve ever known. I was very keen to see how the aerial work and acting would combine, and my mother and I both agreed the different uses of aerial equipment added to the vibe of the scene. For example, when Lady Capulet (performed by Hannah O’Leary) performed from the silks, it seemed to be visually resembling the tangled and distorted and distanced relationship between Lady Capulet and Juliet.
Hannah O’Leary stood out massively for me, she performed as Friar Laurence and Benvolio as well as Lady Capulet, and I thought she was outstanding. Firstly, her acting is wonderful, but on top of this she is able to perform on the various interactive components without fault, acting and creating shapes and emotions through the aerial equipment.
I felt as though there was a definite mix of old and new within the performance, with some dialect changes, modern day settings (particularly in the first part of the performance in the main foyer) mixed with Shakespeare’s beautiful, clever and enchanting words.
My Mother and I both loved the costume changes; simple yet effective. We agreed they were both indicative of scene changes as well as allowing the performers to move the audience to the right points within the room. It was extremely clever and the performers are literally working with the audience, whilst also performing.
I found it difficult sometimes when members of the audience sat down and then stood up for the next scene, purely because it was difficult to manoeuvre around them. We stood throughout the whole performance, and although it’s a nice idea to be able to sit, I just felt it jarred a little and extended scene changes. I also struggled in the final scene because of my positioning. I literally had what seemed to be the best spot for the end scene, but because of positioning, I could only see Romeo’s back, so I couldn’t get really involved and lose myself in that one, perfectly painful and heartbreaking moment. I think this is perhaps a bit of a ‘British problem’ and that I should have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and moved for a better view…
I think with this kind of performance the audience is truly out of their comfort zone. I noticed a massive change in atmosphere from beginning to end, as everyone became part of the performance. I particularly loved the moment when Juliet walked through us and I felt I was with her, feeling her emotions and literally being a fly-on-the-wall in her life. This is where the immersive elements work so unbelievably perfectly.
I adored the gender mash-up with men performing in the traditional female parts and vice-versa. I thought Kayed Mohamed-Mason was outstanding as Juliet’s nurse. Confident, motherly and perfectly performed.
When it comes to Romeo and Juliet, they both had me hook, line and sinker. They were both mesmerising and I felt Romeo (Connor Allen) was definitely a modern-day version of the young Montague, whereas Juliet (Aamira Challenger) had a more classic feel to her performance. Both takes on the star-crossed lovers worked unbelievably well, and I was mesmerised. When Juliet discovers Romeo is banished, her performance made my heart break.
Connor Allen was such a force within the space, his childish mannerisms and youthful behaviour captured the Romeo I see within the play. I loved his strong accent, it gave his character an extra dimension and he just oozed Romeo as he pined for his love.
As ever, Shakespeare’s words are relevant even in today’s world, and Director Yvonne Murphy’s aim to show us that underneath the love story lies a damaged society, much like the one we find ourselves in today. The performance highlights the reality of our lives; the disjointed elements and the grudges held, the broken relationships and fractured society and worst of all, the many lives taken as a result.
We loved the performance; it gave us a lot to think about and it felt like we were truly valued as audience members. I think the more productions are produced in this way, the more society can come together and fix the gaps. We felt as one last night and it was a wonderful feeling.
Romeo and Juliet is running until 14th May 2017 and tickets are £10 each with an age guidance of 7+.
Disclosure: I received tickets in exchange for review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.