Back to Seen From Archives
(images are for reference only, see the sources below)
“Romeo + Juliet” from William Shakespeare
Recorded at the Ambassador Theatre, 19 November 2013.
Available at the Victoria & Albert Museum Archive by appointment
Blythe House, 23 Blythe Road, London W14 0QX
Single camera recording. 1 DVD. 120 min.
Director: Paul Roseby
Cast with links to their Twitter accounts:
«The NYT REP Company – fifteen of NYT’s most talented performers aged 18 – 25 years – will perform in all three productions at the Ambassadors Theatre:
James Hunter … Montague
Louisa Beadel ... Peter/ Apothecary
Miguel Brooking ... Escalus, Prince of Verona/Friar John
Sope Dirisu ... Friar Lawrence/Abram
Sophie Ellerby ... Tybalt
Aruhan Galieva ... Juliet
Aaron Gordon ... Benvolio
Zainab Hasan ... Lady Capulet
Simon Lennon ... Mercutio
Niall Mc Namee ... Romeo
Tom Prior ... Paris
Abigail Rose ... Nurse
Anna Spearpoint ... Lady Montague/Chorus
Tom Thompson ... Capulet
Daisy Whalley ... Gregory/Balthasar»
Adaptation of Lolita Chakrabarti’s TV documentary “When Romeo Met Juliet” for the National Youth Theatre Season.
“Romeo and Juliet” was part of a 3-plays season, together with “Prince of Denmark” and “Tory Boyz” at the Ambassador Theatre, London, 23 September-29 November 2013.
The play was also being performed in a Double bill with “Prince of Denmark“.
I saw it Wednesday 8 October 2014 afternoon from h 12.50.
Having read several good reviews, and seen pictures and trailers about their productions on Twitter and on the Web last year, I was curious to see the three plays from the last National Youth Theatre Season.
I was lucky to find this one as part of the Victoria & Albert Museum Archive.
Getting in touch with their kind and helpful staff has been easy and, in occasion of my last London holiday, I took an appointment by e-mail with them for Wednesday 8 October.
I was also curious to see another version of “Romeo & Juliet” set in our time. You know, “West Side Story” is one of my favorite musicals! I think this play by Shakespeare is still so beautiful and actual after all these centuries.
You can see it from the beginning. A band of six girls and boys stands on the stage, singing and playing drums, in ‘80s clothes and hairstyle. A girl got the same look that made Boy George famous. She even sings “Karma Cameleon” after a while.
Here the Medieval gangs live in a modern city, we found out to be London instead of Verona, and walk by the streets without any aim that could make them carry on. That causes violence between gangs.
The first fight takes place inside a dress store, that is also part of the set design. A policeman prevents the two girls and the man from using their knives.
I find interesting that Tybalt is a woman here. In modern gangs, girls want to be as bold as boys. And she also symbolizes the battle of the sexes, opposite to the love between Romeo and Juliet.
The body of the story remains quite similar to the original.
There’s the masked ball, where boy meets girl.
The scene of the balcony, brilliantly made using the wall with the posters attached on.
The scenes of the death of Mercutio and Tybalt provoked by Romeo – and later, the death of the two lovers inside the mausoleum – have the same tragic power.
There’s irony: the audience laughs when Friar Lawrence cleans the pavement smoking drugs. The nurse is also hilarious. And so on…
There are citations of some cult things of the ‘80s. A cassette player, keyboards, hair dryers, the nurse comes dressed as Sandy in the musical “Grease” in one scene. Sadly ironic that, after the death of Mercutio and Tybalt, Juliet wears a t-shirt with “Peace” on.
Unfortunately, the small size of the monitor and the single camera recording didn’t make me focus on the single performances of the actors the same way I would if I saw it live, but in my opinion the cast had enthusiasm and energy. I’m taking a look to some of them on Twitter, looking forward to their next steps.
I think this is a good version of the play. Despite I’m not fond of the ’80s, I enjoyed it much.
I’d like to watch “When Romeo Met Juliet” too. Now I’m keeping an eye on all the young actors in the cast on Twitter.
And I find great that there are archives that allow people to see plays they couldn’t see live, despite is a rather different experience.
Some notes about the staging.
Set design: is very simple but colourful, made by clothes rails at the two sides, a curtain in the middle, some fruit crates as furniture, a panel with street posters, two scaffoldings used as stage by the musicians, lights.
Costumes and make-up: typical ‘80s style in dresses, make-up and hairstyle.
Soundtrack includes some hits of the ‘80s: the most famous are, as I said, “Karma Cameleon” and “Love will tear us apart” by Joy Division that Romeo sings in a street of Manchester during the banishment. And Reggae music.
National Theatre Official Site, page with information: nationaltheatre.org.uk
Facebook event facebook.com
National Youth Theatre Facebook Page: facebook.com
Ambassador Theatre Official Site, with refer to the three plays: theambassadorstheatre.co.uk
Victoria & Albert Museum Archive Official Site: vam.ac.uk
BBC Two page about “When Romeo Met Juliet“: bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00snbtc
Page about Lolita Chakrabarti‘s playwrights: doollee.com
Some technical information: bufvc.ac.uk/shakespeare
Thomas Hescott Official Site: “Tory Boyz” Page thomashescott.com/projects/tory-boyz
Tom Prior (Paris in “Romeo&Juliet” / Osric in “Prince of Denmark”/ James & Shayne in “Tory Boyz”) Official Site: tomcprior.com
“Photo Flash: National Youth Theatre Launches 2013 Season“: Patron Hugh Bonneville met the new NYT REP Company, with other special guests broadwayworld.com
REVIEW: “Romeo and Juliet, Ambassadors Theatre” By Samuel Sims on November 11, 2013 ayoungertheatre.com
REVIEW: “Romeo and Juliet – National Youth Theatre of Great Britain at the Ambassadors Theatre, London” Posted by: The Public Reviews in Drama 03/10/2013 thepublicreviews.com
REVIEW: “Romeo and Juliet” by Robert Tanitch britishtheatreguide.info
REVIEW: “Romeo and Juliet” by Susan Elkin (Sardines review) 26 Sep 2013 sardinesmagazine.co.uk
REVIEW: “Romeo and Juliet” by nick730 Tuesday, 19 November 2013 partially-obstructed-view.blogspot.it
REVIEW: “Romeo and Juliet / Prince of Denmark” By Michael Coveney • 3 Oct 2013 whatsonstage.com
Ambassador Theatre Season 2013 Trailer: theambassadorstheatre.co.uk
National Youth Theatre Facebook Album: Romeo and Juliet – A selection of photos by Helen Maybanks, from Romeo and Juliet at Ambassadors Theatre. facebook.com
National Youth Theatre Facebook Album: HRH The Earl of Wessex meets the NYT REP after Romeo + Juliet – Photos by Mark Cocksedge facebook.com
National Youth Theatre Flickr Album: flickr.com