Last night Warren and I headed to Sophia Gardens to see the début performance of Romeo and Juliet. Everyman Theatre have brought Shakespeare out into the Cardiff Open Air Theatre, and it’s truly the best way to see this tragic love story.
I adore Shakespeare, with Romeo and Juliet and Hamlet fighting for first place in my mind, so I was super excited to see the play brought to life. We arrived nice and early (the gates open at 6.30pm) because we were desperate to try out a Dusty Knuckle Pizza pizza! I went for a half and half pizza, one side with goats cheese and Roquito peppers and the other with pepperoni and Warren had full on pepperoni and Roquito peppers . The pizzas range from £5-8 and they are pretty big, I couldn’t finish mine!
We enjoyed our pizza in the gorgeous ambience of the covered seating area with a cider from the well stocked bar (they even sell a bottle of prosecco for £12!). The outdoor space was decorated beautifully and you could definitely feel the love all around.
Isn’t it awesome?! Whilst eating pizzza, supping cider and Warren creating art, time flew by and before we knew it we were seated and ready for the performance to begin. As I said, I love Romeo and Juliet, so I was really excited to see how they would perform and present the play. As always, the backdrop of Sophia Gardens was truly magnificent. The set seemed to be a mixture of old and new and I interpreted it as a derelict and dangerous setting.
The performance began with the feature on the two families, the Montagues and Capulets. The street gangs immediately reminded me of West Side Story, their presence on stage was strong, and I felt quite intimidated by a few of them. Warren and I both agreed that Tybalt stood out as threatening and overbearing, her acting was outstanding.
I really liked the ‘street’ feel of the performance, but we both agreed more music would have given the whole performance an extra layer. The use of guitar and drumming, as well as chanting and some vocal music worked well, we just wanted more!
The chemistry between Romeo and Juilet was perfect, they both totally encapsulated their roles, and brought through a naive quality much needed in a play about teenager love. The way they looked at each other and behaved in each other’s company was perfectly acted, and I know it’s weird, but I kept hoping things would work out for them. Yes, I’m soppy…
At the interval we were relieved to have pre-ordered drinks. The bar can get very busy, and the staff are really fast and efficient, but it’s nice to come out of the theatre and find your drink waiting on the table for you with your designated number. So I would definitely recommend pre-ordering interval drinks before you go into the show.
Upon reflection of the first half, Warren admitted how gutted he was when Mercutio died. We both agreed his acting was fantastic; he was passionate and confident within his role.
The second half picked up a faster pace, the urgency of the two lovers paramount. I sat on the edge of my seat ready for what was to come. The tension mounted and Romeo and Juliet were wonderful in their roles, the pain and anguish of their situation evident through their acting.
I also want to point out that each actor read their Shakespearean lines with such power, for a language that could be tricky for some to always understand, the actors add to the words to create this understanding and pass it on to the audience.
We really enjoyed the performance, it was great to see Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet brought to life. We would have loved more music added into the mix, but it didn’t detract from the outstanding performances and chemistry between the actors.
If you are a Shakespeare fan or you’re new to his world then you won’t be disappointed with this semi-modern take on the play.
Romeo and Juliet is running from 21st– 30th July, book your tickets now!
Disclosure: I was provided with two free tickets in exchange for this review. All opinions are 100% honest and my own.