production of Romeo & Juliet
, his inaugural show as the new artistic director of Bell Shakespeare
is a Doake and dagger affair.
, Michelle Doake
doesn’t just milk the comedy, she creams it. And the dagger and sword play choreographed by Nigel Poulton
cuts a swathe as sharp as Doake's
She is a marvellous creation, capturing all the vulgarity, vanity, foolishness, and warm heartedness of the character.
She is well matched in the hi-jinks of the first half of the play by Damien Strouthos
, a robust and ribald Mercutio
, Jacob Warner
, a relaxed, responsible and responsive take as his apprentice amorist, Benvolio
, and Cramer Cain
, in a cheeky, cheerful turn as the Capulet's retainer, Peter
They set the tone just right playing the joy, lyricism, bawdy fun and youthful exuberance that sets up the tragic pay-off of the second act.
The catalyst of the tragedy, Tybalt
, who Mercutio
taunts as a rat-catcher, is played with a steely malevolence by Tom Stokes
, who also shows an adroit dexterity in his handling of steel in the marvellous aforementioned sword play. It's a nifty touch to have him double as the apothecary who supplies Romeo
with his apocalyptic poison. Justin Stewart Cotta
essays a muscular Lord Capulet
a towering contrast to Angie Milliken
as his soft spoken spouse, a character disconnected to husband, daughter and the real conflict that surrounds her society. Hazem Shammas
is splendid as the Friar
who gets caught up in the youngster's heady affair, his prudence compromised by a belief that their union may destroy the families blood fued.
As the star crossed lovers, Alex Williams
struts and frets in teenage hormonal turmoil as Romeo
, callow youth catapulted to doomed man of action to fill the void of Mercutio's
absence. Kelly Paterniti
certainly looks the part, and presents a feisty fourteen year old, lively and witty, but innocent at first. By the end of the balcony scene, she has blossomed into the decisive and pragmatic heroine of the piece.
On a set of scaffold partly surfaced with balconies and a semblance of a draped Victorian proscenium, the actors are dressed in costumes redolent of an even earlier age.
In this, the year of the quadricentennial commemoration of Shakespeare’s death, this production of Romeo & Juliet
does the Bard proud.
Bell Shakespeare presentsRomeo and JulietBy William ShakespeareDirector
Peter Evans Sydney Venue:
Sydney Opera HouseDates:
24 February – 27 March, 2016CanberraVenue:
Canberra Theatre CentreDates:
2 – 9 April, 2016MelbourneVenue:
Arts Centre MelbourneDates:
15 April – 1 May, 2016Bookings/Info: bellshakespeare.com.au