A classic retelling of Shakespeare’s tragedy, this piece is brought to us by Guy Masterson, TTI in association with Maverick Theatre Co. The group have brought this piece to the Fringe in an attempt to add an innovative sheen to the most well known and overdone love story in existence.
A bog standard retelling of the Bard’s tale of tragedy
As a basic rendition of a Shakespearean classic, this piece works on an uncomplicated level. It’s reasonably acted – a few stumbles over words and missed lines, which can be forgiven early on in the run. However the direction doesn’t do what it says on the tin. It’s marketed as "a fresh, feminist take on Shakespeare’s classic". I struggled to understand how the piece could in any way be considered feminist. The Juliet in this piece, as in most others, is an insipid slave to devotion to her man and enslavement to her father, and at no point broke with this traditional trope. It plays out very conventionally and in keeping with the original text.
The freshness of the piece was the spin on the setting – the first scene sees the House of Capulet actors adorned in Aston Villa football strips, with the House of Montague repping Birmingham City FC. The introductory scene portrays a battle scene mimicking a football fight. However this theme is all but forgotten throughout the rest of the performance, bar the fact that the actors are all wearing football strips throughout. Had this element been threaded throughout the performance, it would have had much more of an impact. By the end, I was left perplexed as overall, it was a bog standard retelling of the Bard’s tale of tragedy – with inexplicably random football scarves thrown in.
The actors in this piece all showed moments of brilliance with their portrayal of their characters. In particular, the character of the Nurse/Juliet’s mum played by Amy Anderson was outstandingly polished – with every one of her scenes enacted exceptionally and convincingly. The performance is a good adaptation of Romeo & Juliet – however the danger of bringing such a behemoth to the Fringe is that it’s all been done before. So in order to really stand out, the offering has to be nothing short of phenomenal. All hope is not lost – the concept behind this is good, and being further teased out and marketed appropriately would elevate the overall standard.