“Romeo & Juliet”
On Wednesday, March 1st, over one hundred students from second and third year went to see Geoff O’ Keefe’s production of their studied Junior Cert. play, “Romeo & Juliet”, in The Mill Theatre in Dundrum.
Despite the usual economy of actors and minimal use of props in Shakespearean productions, the story-line held true to the classic romance with its poignantly tragic end. Costumes and acting were uncannily modern for the teenage audience, and the general response from the boys who attended was positive. See below a very in-depth analysis of the play by Cormac O Bric, a third year student.
Romeo & Juliet: Review
I recently went to see Romeo & Juliet, a classic romantic tragedy by Shakespeare, in the Mill Theatre. I enjoyed this take on the play, but it had its shortcomings.
The storyline of the play was the same as in all dramatizations of Romeo and Juliet. It opened with the brawl in the marketplace, continued into Romeo first seeing Juliet, then the balcony scene, followed by their marriage, Romeo’s banishing from Verona and the end of Romeo and Juliet.
There were many things I liked about the play, but some things I didn’t. Props were used sparingly, but every time in a clever way. The only props used were a few swords, two benches, a swing, two candles, a bed, a vial and a reservoir, nothing more. The actors changed around the props themselves, because of the fact that there were so few of them. When the nurse entered each time, she set out a bench for herself, Lady Capulet and Juliet. Later in the play, Friar Laurence and the nurse carried out the candles themselves as Juliet was lying on her bed. There was a white screen behind, which showed abstract art during certain scenes, and what looked like a tomb interior near the end. There were no big pull-out sets and props, unlike other dramas I’ve seen. I enjoyed the way the props were used, and I felt it made the play more like theatre in Shakespeare’s time, where no fancy props or sets were utilized.
Mercutio’s personality as a joker, and as a good friend of Romeo and his cousin, Benvolio, was truly brought out in the play. He was wearing runners, short, loose-fitting pantaloons and a pink shirt (and occasionally sunglasses), an outfit which made him stand out from all other characters. His humorous side was made apparent when I first saw him, he crept up behind Romeo and gave him a fright. He exaggerated Romeo’s love for Rosaline to make him come out from being with Juliet at the balcony, probably more than Shakespeare had intended, which I really liked. He made repeated sexual gestures and jokes, often about Romeo, which Shakespeare never included in the script. He and Benvolio even gave eachother piggybacks. I really liked the way Mercutio’s joker identity was brought out in the play, in a way larger than Shakespeare had probably intended.
On numerous occasions, the actors were re-used as different characters. This allowed for more characters to be played than there were actors. At the start, when Gregory left the stage, Sampson ‘became’ Benvolio as a lovesick Romeo entered. The Gregory who was there at the start returned a while later as Tybalt, and afterward as Friar Laurence. I think this was a very clever thing to do, as it allowed multiple characters to be played by one actor, and economized.
There wasn’t exactly a balcony scene, but rather a twist on it which involved Romeo, who was standing on stairs of the auditorium just meters away from me, calling over to Juliet, who was sitting on a swing. This was quite unlike Romeo calling up to Juliet on her balcony, but still, it was nonetheless romantic.
In the ballroom, the actors danced as Capulet chastised Tybalt, by use of slow motion. They continued without distracting us from what was happening. If I looked to one side from Capulet scolding Tybalt, I could see the nurse and Lady Capulet making sure Juliet looked her best, Mercutio spinning around drinking alcohol from his reservoir, Benvolio blowing Juliet a kiss and Romeo watching as all the action happened. As the music of ‘Titanium’ by David Guetta and Sia was playing, Capulet was yelling at Tybalt, and all others were silent. However, when Romeo caught sight of Juliet, the whole cast exited the stage bar the two, leaving them alone together.
The play did have its shortcomings, however. The Prince Escalus, a man of such great authority, appeared in voice only, which meant that fear wasn’t really struck into the brawlers in the marketplace, and there was no man standing before the audience delivering the closing speech on the two “star-cross’d” lovers. I feel that the play would have had more of an impact on me had he been visually included.
Paris, a cousin of Juliet’s, did not emerge at all, despite featuring heavily in Shakespeare’s script. Without Paris, Capulet hadn’t anyone to recommend Juliet to, an essential part of the story. Paris’ absence meant that a fateful and dramatic brawl between he and Romeo, which would have been very thrilling, did not take place. The lack of Paris meant that essentially, the play was like a jigsaw missing a piece, so his absence lamentably removed a significant part of the story.
Overall, in this twist on “Romeo and Juliet”, the good features outweigh the shortcomings, in my opinion, so I quite enjoyed it, for such things as the props, Mercutio’s personality and the new twist on the balcony scene. I would give it 8/10, or ****, but nothing more.
I would recommend the play to any followers or people who enjoy the work of Shakespeare, and any people looking at how Shakespeare’s plays can be dramatized in many different ways. However, I would not recommend it to children, because of Mercutio’s sexual gestures and jokes and Capulet’s ferocious behavior towards the women, especially Juliet, in one of the scenes.
Cormac O Bric 3P