Royal Shakespeare Company: Romeo and Juliet, at The Courtyard Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon
Shakespeare’s star crossed lovers have been set in every age since the play was written more than 400 years ago and in this production at The Courtyard Theatre they are placed firmly in the present day.
But while Romeo and Juliet are roaming around in hoodies and leggings, the rest of the cast are Elizabethan to the core, setting the lovers apart from the beginning.
In fact director Rupert Gould has made some very definite decisions on this play. Not only are the lovers leagues apart in history but they are also played as substantially younger than those around them.
While stressing their youthful enthusiasm is consistent with the play, Juliet is about to turn 14 after all, it does make their great love more of a teenage infatuation than the greatest romance of history.
For Mariah Gale’s Juliet and Sam Troughton’s Romeo this is an affair of lust and impulse rather than deep love. It is an interesting telling which makes their deaths all the more of a waste at the end but it does risk us not believing their love is more than a passing fancy.
Designed by Tom Scutt there is plenty of drama, not least in the fighting, and colour, particularly at the masked ball. But at more than three hours, and with a first half lasting two of these, it feels overlong for the insubstantial relationship at its core.
Until August 27