On a mocked-up wooden booth stage, the lively cast of Shakespeare's Globe's touring revival of the bard's ultimate adolescent love story move from the auditorium where they've been mingling with the audience and strike up a lively tune with the assorted saxophones, clarinets and big bass drums they've been carrying. Their artisan outfits add to the effect of a hipster-led nouveau Balkan ensemble playing some boisterous homage to the ghosts of lost romances past, and after some out-front introductions, we're off into a show that doesn't let up for a second.
The lights remain on in director Dominic Dromgoole's production, which is exactly how it should be as his cast of eight plus three musicians burl their way through action which is at times cut up to juxtapose crucial moments as a film might do. So while Hannah McPake's Lady Capulet and Sarah Higgins' Nurse attempt to marry Cassie Layton's Juliet off to Paris with a girlish fervour that resembles a sorority sleepover, Samuel Valentine's lovesick Romeo and his tattooed gang strut and preen their way to gatecrashing the big fancy-dress do.
As the play's central couple, Layton and Valentine cut a youthful dash through the florid early scenes, with Layton's wide-eyed Juliet falling for Valentine's geeky charm as Romeo in a passion in four days done here as ripping yarn. Once things get serious, both with their affair and the fatal street fights they inspire, they're s understandably overcome with earnestness as any teen who becomes the centre of attention might be. When the inevitable happens, however, they're back to being players once more as things erupt into an appositely joyous dance of death.
The Herald, July 17th 2015