Urban Myth Theatre of Youth is to be applauded for tackling such a piece, and bringing Shakespeare to young people in the most poignant and memorable way – i.e.: performing him.
Use of the infinite proscenium of the outdoor setting, with trees and even the distant church subtly and appropriately lit, gave this young company a large acting area to swarm about in and express their exuberance, enabling lots of running around and overblown gestures, and some high spirited if occasionally chaotic choreography. Further, it allowed the construction of an excellent and expansive set which nicely suggested Veronese arches and provided better ability to build a high balcony than many an indoor stage. Setting the play in mid 1940’s Italy with its tensions and turmoil worked well, and the play itself speaks directly to young love and emotionality, which gave much congruence to its being performed by such a youthful cast.
As indestructible as Shakespeare is, I could have wished for some tighter direction and more encouragement of thought by these young actors, so that meaning was better understood and conveyed, rather than having the words pumped out mechanically, “as schoolboys from their books”.
That having been said, the overwhelming impression of the production was one of energy and sheer physicality that was infectious and unmistakeable. There were moments of charming freshness, and some up and coming actors with nurturable talent. Alexander Possingham made a loveable Romeo (although he talked more to the audience than to Juliet in the balcony scene, and what this scene lacked in emotion, it regained in vigour). Josh Battersby nicely expressed aspects of a “fiery Tybalt”, Gemma Sneddon was a crisp and efficient Nurse, showing appropriate emotionality, Gabriel Gilbert’s Mercutio died splendidly, and Patrick Klavins and Sophia Simmons as Lord and Lady Capulet both showed some fine promise in their respective portrayals.
Out of the melodramatic moments, sometimes even with an air of Punch and Judy, came some quiet intimacy at last before the wedding scene, and also in the quiet and sad ending to the first half with the death of Tybalt and his body being carried off to the strains of Allegri’s fabulous “Miserere”.
The finale was impressive, expressing again the beautiful energy of this cast, right down to their running off through the audience and back for a well-earned bow. Whatever the actual depth of understanding conveyed, it must never be denied an enthusiastic troupe such as this the chance to study, learn and perform this astounding script. The State and Federal governments must be applauded along with these rising stars, for funding an organisation such as Urban Myth that brings theatre to our young, and our young to the theatre.
Urban Myth Theatre of Youth present
ROMEO AND JULIET
by William Shakespeare
Venue: Unley Village Green, Adelaide
Dates: December 4 - 6, 2008
Tickets: $15 adults, $10 concession or $45 for family of 2 adults and 2 children
Bookings: (08) 8225 8888 or venuetix.com.au