Written for The Stage
Entering the Rose Theatre is usually atmospheric enough, but this is thoroughly romantic as you are seduced with the smell of sweet incense and the sight of delicate candles flickering in jars. The setting of Martin Parr’s production of Romeo and Juliet feels as light to the touch as his quicksilver direction does.
Parr has cut Shakespeare’s story of woe to a swift 90 minutes. It’s a whistlestop tour of all the best bits with famous quotes dropping like jewels from this speedy cast. With the production moving as quickly as Romeo and Juliet do, there is a palpable sense of their haste in love.
The cast juggle their roles with the bravado of street performers, with character changes reliant on shifts in posture and a handy array of scarves. Their control in this circus is impressive although it is only really Jennifer Higham’s girlish Juliet and Isabel Pollen’s warm Friar Lawrence whose performances are particularly moving.
This is because the brevity also strips the major moments of their emotional power; Mercutio dies too quickly, as do our star-crossed lovers, leaving us as cold as their bodies. Ultimately, though, we know each event is coming, we would just like a little more time to wallow in our grief.
Runs until 30 June – more information here