This is a “bare bones” production of Shakespeare’s classic play Romeo and Juliet. With just a small black platform comprising the set, minimal props and nondescript costumes, director Craig Williams was successful in his objective of not setting the story in a specific time or place.
Class Act is a company designed to make theatre accessible to school age children and promote learning across all streams of the curriculum. The play, if performed in its entirety would take more than 3 hours, so essentially what we saw was about half of it. This production was textually edited in much the same way as Baz Luhrmann’s popular film version, although that is where the similarity ends.
What this production did well, and differently to the film, was accentuate the wit and humour that is so present in Romeo and Juliet, essentially a tragedy. Aside from sword fighting, in ancient Verona friends would amuse themselves with displays of wit and cunning much like the rap or dance battles of today. The bawdy humour and witty exchanges between Mercutio (Ian Toyne), Romeo (Daniel Garrett) and Benvolio (Matt Longman) were engaging and translated well to the audience.
Something else that grabbed me as an unusual and likeable point of difference was the inclusion of live music in the party scene at the Capulet House. Some of the text had been set to a melody and two of the cast provided back-up on guitar.
While the humour and wit were portrayed very well, the tragedy, violence and romance were a little harder to distinguish. There were also some casting challenges with just 8 actors portraying the 18 roles. It worked in a lot of cases, but there were one or two awkward moments made worse by the unforgiving teenage audience.
There were some strong performances, particularly from Ian Toyne who was cast in the dual roles of Lord Capulet and Mercutio. He was able to capture the playful, mischievous nature of Mercutio and then instantly return to play Lord Capulet with a power and fury that had the audience riveted to Juliet’s sorry plight.
Class Act Theatre presents
ROMEO AND JULIET
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Craig Williams
Venue: Subiaco Arts Centre, 180 Hamersley Rd, Subiaco
Dates: August 24 - 28, 2010
Times: Tues - Sat at 7.30pm
Matinees: Wed 25, Thu 26 & Fri 27 August at 10am
Tickets: $14.90 to $33.00
Bookings: BOCS: 9484 1133
Also in Busselton Aug 31 to Sept 3 and Dunsborough Sept 4