Romeo and Juliet – Heartbreak Style
Romeo and Juliet by Heartbreak Productions gives a new twist to the story of the star crossed lovers. This ambitious 2019 production has reinvented the tale using multi media, and makes Shakespeare accessible to all in this outdoor extravaganza. Accomplished writer and director Alan Atkins, has added a fun framing device which explain bits of the plot to those who don’t already know the ins and outs of the story. The Montagues and the Capulets become more like the Kardashians in their social media rivalry! He has also cut some of it (it does go on a bit in the middle) and translated some sections into contemporary English with lots of humour that keeps the audience engaged.
Friar Lawrence who is a fairly dry, if important character in the original, becomes a female Maya Lawrence! She is now an American mindfulness guru, who gives counselling to Romeo. Her well meaning meddling helps to bring them together but is sadly also instrumental in their subsequent hapless demise.
This R&J is set in the world of social media and celebrity families. Characters are very concerned about their social profiles and getting the best selfies. Paris becomes DJ Paris, and Lady Capulet is a high maintenance trophy wife keen on posing with her powerful husband.
Romeo and Juliet – two warring families
Romeo and Juliet are looking for authenticity in a fake world, and they speak to each other in the original Shakespearean verse. Their purity and commitment to each other contrasts with the chaos of the media world around them.
The comic re imaginings do resonate and seem quite natural in this family friendly version. Shakespeare always had physical and verbal comedy in his plays appropriate to the social morays of the times, and so this is just a modern take on that. Its also very enjoyable! I can’t remember ever laughing much during Romeo and Juliet before this!
Romeo and Juliet – a talented cast
William Keetch is a suitably pretty romantic lead, but he’s great at comedy too (check out Private Lives!) He does look a bit like a member of One Direction as the Nurse refers to him.
Bethany Down is just right as Juliet and captures the sweet devotion of a young girl in love. Abigail Castleton revels in the outrageously shallow posing of lady Capulet and Jason Ryall proves to be a very versatile member of the cast, especially good at engaging with the audience.
Alexander Gordon’s Italian Nurse – the only reference to the play’s original setting – is peculiarly convincing and very amusing – I really enjoyed his performance.
This production embraces multi media to bring the story bang up to date. There is a huge TV at the back of the stage and a news reporter gives us updates on the death of various characters and plot developments. There are Skype calls and lots of mobile phone action inserted into scenes.
Romeo and Juliet – multimedia style!
In true Heartbreak Productions style, this a very energetic show. A talented young cast romp through this physical, fast moving and funny evening’s entertainment. Versatile as ever, the actors grasp many different accents with aplomb, even the Geordie one! Different accents are always used to good effect and help differentiate between the multiple characters each actor gets to play. The show is live streamed and you can log on and comment online as the show goes on.
Heartbreak Productions have done it again! This is a cracking version of Romeo and Juliet. In its audacious reworking of this classic if rather tragic story of a doomed romance and family conflict, it brings new energy and a fresh approach. It’s touring all over the country now and I can pretty much guarantee it will bring a smile to your face (even if they do die at the end.)