Launching what Shakespeare's Globe romantically calls its 'season of star-crossed lovers' is the tragedy most oft associated with this phrase, Romeo and Juliet. Its perennial popularity as a set text is attested by the enthusiastic hordes attending on a wet spring evening, the dismal weather failing to dampen their infectious good humour; an energy the cast heartily imbibed, demonstrating just why the Globe has such singular appeal with its special, symbiotic relationship between actors and audience.
Sumptuously costumed in dress of the period, the first thing you notice about this production is its sense of urgency, something that forms the pivotal framework for this most lyrical of Shakespearean tragedies. Though the mood changes from the humour and high spirits of the first few scenes to the poignant aftermath of Mercutio's murder, there's a strong sense of 'time's winged chariot' crucially underpinning the actions of all the characters. Tim Carroll, Master of Play endorses this, saying ' every decision has to be taken under extreme pressure…no-one has enough time to make the righ Although the passion between the two young lovers, played by Tom Burke and Kananu Kirimi is slightly under-powered - coltish rather than passionate- they both give endearing performances, an inventive touch being the mask Romeo wears at the Capulet's ball which later evolves into a playful love token exchanged on Juliet's balcony. In support, Globe stalwart John McEnery is a memorably sage Friar Lawrence and Melanie Jessop jettisons the usual portrayal of Lady Capulet as a heartless mother in favour of a more thoughtful interpretation.
Globe productions are always multi-faceted, stressing the interdependence of text, music and dance, but it's unusual to see the latter incorporated so successfully that it becomes a fluid part of the drama, the final jig a rousing testament to the power of live theatre presented with flair and imagination.
What other critics had to say.....
FIONA MOUNTFORD for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Has some undoubted flashes of exhilaration, yet overall the runaway train of all-consuming first love fails to convince." LYN GARDNER for THE GUARDIAN says, "Three hours of drama so passionless that it almost made you feel like topping yourself." CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, "There is undoubtedly much to admire." BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "Not great, but encouraging — and a lot better than so-so." ALASTAIR MACAULAY for THE FINANCIAL TIMES says, "Romeo and Juliet are both charming, but neither of them sounds the play's keenest heartbeat."