Red Koi Reviews

See what I've seen, hear what I've heard

Romeo and Juliet

Posted by redkoireviews on 26/06/2006

Romeo & JulietDespite being one of the most famous plays of all time, this was my first live performance of “Romeo and Juliet” by William Shakespeare. Directed by John Bell, performed by his theatre company Bell Shakespeare, and attended by American tourists wanting to see a famous play in the famous Sydney Opera House.

John Bell has modernised Shakespeare before, and he’s moved the warring families of the Montagues and Capulets into a kind of gang / mafia setting. It should have worked, but Bell seems to have relied on a pretty thin understanding of gang rivalry, and it winds up unconvincing.

What lacks in the gang rivalry is made up for in Juliet. Shakespeare took the old tale of Romeo and Juliet, and made Juliet much younger – an innocent and naive 14 year old. Chloe Armstrong captures this innocence brilliantly. It transforms the play from being about true love, to a play about passionate first love. Other notable performances include Mathew Moore as Mercutio and John Batchelor as Capulet.

Romeo and Juliet is not one of my favorite Shakespeare’s, and I was was expecting something more from John Bell. Then again, it’s oft said Bell does one play a year that’s a crowd pleaser, and I guess Romeo & Juliet was it this year. For a more glowing review, see the Sydney Morning Herald’s opinion

My Rating: 3.5 Stars

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2 Responses to “Romeo and Juliet”

  1. Kez said

    I just saw this on Saturday, and totally agree with your review! My favourite character was Matthew Moore as Mercutio – he was the highlight of the play in my opinion. It certainly wasn’t the best Bell Shakespeare I have seen, but far from the worst – having seen the version of King Lear he did a few years ago, directed by Barry Kosky!

  2. […] Earlier this year my Partner and I saw Bell Shakespeare perform “Romeo and Juliet“, and last night we saw “The Tempest“. I’ve never seen “The Tempest” before and found it my new favourite Shakespeare. The play is a tale of power, providence and magic. […]

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