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Romeo And Juliet

University Of Glasgow East Quad
4 stars
How to do Shakespeare’s young love’s dream tragedy with any credibility in these post-Baz Luhrman times? For Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, getting back to the bard’s on the road roots on this, their first ever tour, having their pumped up young cast tumble out of a clapped out camper van looking like rival stag and hen parties at chucking out time is one solution. The full-on pagga that opens Edward Dick’s open-air production extends the image before all eight actors gradually don more classical garb.

It’s a lively curtain-raiser to a faithful if thrusting take on things, even if some stage pictures are arranged and posed like a fashion spread for a mid-market glossy mag. Taking full advantage of the Quad’s wonderful natural acoustic, Juliet’s ‘Wherefore art thou…’ speech is delivered from the camper van’s sun roof. Instead of being lost to the elements, the poetry soars up to the heavens, which eventually give way to its portents.

Elsewhere, action spills onto the lawn as Romeo goes walkabout. Set against the hallowed halls, his carousing comrades look every inch late night student boozers without ever resembling Brideshead Revisited hangers-on. As the couple, Richard Madden and Ellie Piercy are gorgeously modern. Lighter moments come from Eliot Shrimpton’s doubling up as Juliet’s Nurse and Friar Lawrence, whose presence for the first time makes you wonder what would have happened if R and J had ditched the church’s advice, hanged the consequences and simply shacked up.

As the night draws in and the clouds grow darker during Juliet’s pre-poison speech, the sky finally bursts, fates are sealed and sins aren’t so much washed away as drowned.

The Herald, June 22nd 2007

ends

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