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Romeo and Juliet

Dundee Rep
3 stars
The broken-down piano on which Romeo pounds out a restless opening medley in James Brining’s new production of Shakespeare’s tragedy of teenage kicks suggests too much energy married to a lack focus beyond a few bars of lovesick blues. Kevin Lennon’s tousle-headed Romeo is soon distracted from his letting-off-steam routine when the rest of the boys come calling, and drag him out partying.

It’s a powerful opening on Neil Warmington’s wide-open set, a decrepit ballroom stained with dust, then whitewashed as some wonky retro student bar for poshos to pick fights with each other in. Elsewhere, Emily Winter’s Lady Capulet is a primpingly perfect social climber straight out of Wisteria Lane, who wants her little girl to marry into even more money on the right side of society. Cliff Burnett’s Friar Lawrence is some laid-back hippy guru confidante who doles out guidance to the rich, but whose string-pulling of the lovers’ fake suicide pact goes horribly wrong.

As Brian Docherty’s impressively evocative soundscape emotes throughout, Brining sprinkles a ton of such ideas throughout this handsome affair, but never quite follows through beyond some gorgeously vivid set-pieces. By the second half, the momemtum of any concept disappears completely in a show which goes some considerable way over the two hours promised in Shakespeare’s opening speech. The play, as ever, wins out, here with some winning turns. Lennon is really coming into his own as an actor just now, and makes a mercurial Romeo. As Juliet, Hannah Donaldson may rush her words at times, though this only adds to her youthful spark in a fresh looking affair which occasionally loses its way.

The Herald, March 14th 2008

ends

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