It is a brave decision to take a classic to stage, naturally comparisons follow. The right decision to reinterpret, rediscover moments of a text is brave. And in the decision to bring Romeo & Juliet part of the Cardiff Open Air Festival 16 has no doubt given all who are fortunate enough to see it an alternative glimpse into the words of Shakespeare and the relevance of the themes.The decisions made by co-directors Mark Modezelewski and Jack Paterson create all the success of the piece. There is a real feel for how much the actors were involved in the process of bringing the words to the stage. A complete ensemble is created with each role on the stage having a contribution to the play’s energy.
The production pulls on the darker themes, and in doing so the play seems gritty and new- the story the same but with added elements, created through the ensemble there is an innovative feel, bringing it truly into a now.Decisions on roles added another dimension to the production. With Benvolio becoming two roles- Ben (Edward Kettle) and Volio (Stephanie Smith)- the gender balance brought new context, Tybalt is played by Asha Cecil, and Balthasar by Carys McQueen. All contributing to the creative energy within the production.
The principle roles of Romeo and Juliet were brought by Mikey Howe and Helen Randall. Romeo seemed more youthful, Mikey Howe successfully brought a sense of likeability to the role, alongside the conviction of the actions which unfold. Juliet was beautifully portrayed, Helen Randall bringing a personable and likeable character to life. And for the two, there was the chemistry needed to make the audience fall into the play.As now seems to be the joy of Cardiff’s Open Air Theatre, it was the second act and the beauty of the surrounding which seemed to bring reality and creation into an equilibrium, the reality of the outside world entirely adding context and beauty to the play in which we were absorbed. There is much to compliment in the production. And between the interpretation, the cast and the environment- it is definitely a must-see.
Romeo & Juliet is at the Cardiff Open Air Festival 16 from 21st – 30th July 2016 with tickets available on the website.
Photo Credit: Keith Stanbury
Disclosure: I received a complementary ticket for Romeo & Juliet for the purpose of this review. All opinions and views contained are my own.