This production of the bittersweet Shakespeare staple, Romeo and Juliet has a distinct suburban flavour and is vaguely reminiscent of Baz Luhrmann’s film interpretation of the popular romantic tragedy. It is Glenn Elston’s (director and artistic director) fourth production of the story of the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets and this summer is set on the Southern Cross Lawn in the Botanical Gardens.
The star crossed lovers, Romeo (Glen Van Oosterom) and Juliet (Kylie Farmer, being her first foray into Shakespeare) are each played with zest and innocence. Strong performances are also given by Adrian Dart as Mercutio, and Terri Brabon as Juliet’s beloved Nurse. The ‘security guards’ for each noble family house act as entertaining masters of ceremony inviting the picnic rug sitting audience to enjoy a ‘brew’ during interval at the temporarily erected Café Capulet.
Elston’s experience and familiarity with this outdoor venue is evident in the way the actors utilise the gardens’ grounds and the open space. The masquerade ball, during which the young lovers first meet, is staged at dusk; the characters’ love cements in the famous balcony scene complimented beautifully by the sun setting.
The contemporary references are more predominant in Act 1, which begins with a road rage incident in the larger Capulet mini van and the Montague’s ute to the sound of ‘Dirty Vinyl Pusher’. Juliet’s Nurse suffers from asthma, Mercutio wears leathers pants, the attendees at the masquerade ball hide behind sunglasses instead of masks, and the Shakespearian language is made more accessible as it is adorned with modern colloquialisms. However in Act 2, the majority of the key scenes are delivered in their traditional form, which does not disappoint.
Although an inherently tragic play, overall, Elston’s interpretation is comical, light and a delightful way to enjoy a spot of Shakespearian theatre under the stars.
Australian Shakespeare Company presents
Romeo & Juliet
by William Shakespeare
Venue: Royal Botanic Gardens | Southern Cross Lawn (Enter Through Gate F, Birdwood Ave)
Dates: December 28 – March 15, 2008
Times: Tuesday – Sunday at 8pm
Tickets: Tues-Thurs Full $30, Conc $25, Child <15 $20
Friday, Saturday & Sunday $35, $30, $25
New Year’s Eve & Valentine’s Day $40, $35, $30
Bookings: 1300 122 344 or Ticketmaster 136 100 or online www.ticketmaster.com.au or www.shakespeareaustralia.com.au
Handling fee may apply
Cash only sales at the on-site Box Office
Box Office opens one hour before each performance