Kate Herbert is theatre reviewer, Herald Sun, Melbourne & formerly for Melbourne Times. Kate is a director & produced playwright (20 plays). Scripts published by Currency Press. She worked as an actor, comedian, improviser & teacher of Acting, Improvisation & Playwriting. Kate is currently Convenor of Professional Writing & Editing, Swinburne University. Read her reviews here or at: www.heraldsun.com.au/entertainment/arts. NB Explorer Browser doesn't always work on blog.
Tuesday, 19 April 2016
Romeo and Juliet, Bell Shakepeare, April 15, 2016 ***1/2
THEATRE By William Shakespeare, Bell
Shakespeare Company Fairfax
Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, until May 1, 2016 Reviewer: Kate Herbert on April 15, 2016 Stars:***1/2
Review also online in Herald Sun Arts on Tues April 19, 2016 and also in print. KH
Romeo and Juliet - Kelly Paterniti, Alex Williams_pic Daniel Boud
the first minutes of the opening night of Romeo and Juliet, the electrics
failed and director, Peter Evans, diverted the audience with chatter about
Shakespeare until the lights came up, accompanied by a cheer, and the crowd was
now in the palm of his hand.
production captures the passionate spirit of Shakespeare’s play about adolescent
‘star-crossed lovers’ from feuding families, beginning as a playful comedy
before veering relentlessly into tragedy after Mercutio’s (Damien
death, the first of many.
youthful cast, although older than Juliet’s almost 14 years, embodies the
intemperate passions and lack of impulse control of these privileged, young
people of Verona; the stage is steaming with hormones.
of Shakespeare’s glorious, poetic textures and rhythms are lost amidst the brazen,
energetic delivery of famous monologues, but the volatility of these teenage
lovers and their exuberant, feuding cohorts enlivens the story, bringing it
into our times.
curtained archway and two high balconies supported by scaffolding, and the
elegant, brocaded costumes, evoke the Italian Renaissance town on this stage
within a stage designed by Anna Cordingley.
Romeo is boyish, petulant, whining (a little too much whining), a victim of his
hormones and romantic fantasies that lead him into perils including seducing
and marrying his enemy’s daughter and killing her cousin leading to his death
and his lover’s. No spoiler alert needed.
Paterniti is pert and girlish as the besotted Juliet, and her tiny, poppet-like
frame and light voice make credible Juliet’s childish flightiness, foolhardy
decisions and romantic musings.
is a comic highlight as Juliet’s Nurse and she relishes her bawdy dialogue,
foolish ramblings and slapstick tomfoolery.
Strouthos plays Mercutio as a brattish,
brawling fun-lover but his characterisation lacks some of the charm and
charisma that are essential ingredients of any unforgettable Mercutio.
story is riddled with bullying, thuggery, gang feuds and domestic violence so a
contemporary audience needs to suspend any gentler sensibilities and try not to
judge characters such as Mercutio, Tibalt (Tom
Lord Capulet (Justin Stuart Cotta) as the bullies that
direction moves at a galloping pace while the palpably dangerous sword fights
(directed by Nigel Poulton) epitomise the hot-bloodedness of these feuding
is a dignified Benvolio, Hazzam Shamas opens the play with a comical Samson and
later plays the naive, fearful Friar.
gives grace and vulnerability to Lady Capulet, Michael Gupta plays the County Paris
as blissfully ignorant, while Cramer Cain is a goofy Peter, the servant.
Romeo and Juliet, the characters are on an inexorable march toward the tragic finale
in the Capulets’ tomb, but an audience cannot help but want to warn them every
step of the way and shout, “Don’t do it!” – to no avail, of course.