Would you believe it – it has been at least 3 months since the hubby and I went out together on our own. We used to have regular date nights but the arrival of baby Sprout has put an end to that for now. But this week we were delighted to get out on our own to celebrate our 5th Wedding Anniversary.
As it happened I was invited to the Press evening for Romeo and Juliet at the Sherman Theatre Cardiff. I love the Sherman Theatre, their productions never fail to hit the spot and I have reviewed several children’s productions there before – Maudie’s Rooms, Boing! and Rock Pool and loved each one.
As an English Literature graduate I am well versed in Shakespeare but I know that by and large it is inaccessible to many which is such a shame. My husband is one of those people – he struggles to understand the language and the true meaning of the play is therefore lost on him.
This is exactly why we both loved this version of Romeo and Juliet. The same plot, in the same original language but with a very modern twist completely revamped the story. It was made relevant to today. Indeed of course the story is still very relevant in modern times. Cities divided by hate, feuds, gang wars – we see these stories on the news every day. The modern setting really helped my husband to grasp the storyline, even though the Shakespearean language might normally have been impenetrable to him.
But this production was so much more than this too – the staging was incredible – simple but powerful. The music was modern, edgy and brought the action into the modern world. The acting was simply brilliant – you could literally hear a pin drop the tension was so great at pivotal moments as the audience (who I am sure were familiar with the plot) were on the edge of their seats anyway. For me, the regional accents of the actors added a fantastic extra dimension to the story – and some added comedy!
And for me, as a literatures student it was a delight to see the play as I feel it was meant to be performed. It is a love story, but it is so much more than that. It is crude, it is violent and it is an unsubtle damnation of society. The fickle Romeo whose attraction quickly transfers from Rosaline to Juliet pays the ultimate sacrifice for failing to heed the Priest’s words “wisely and slow, they stumble that run fast”. Juliet, far from being the chaste girl she protests she is when she first meets Romeo is testament to her upbringing – the failures of Mrs Capulet and the crudeness of the Nurse are all too evident in this brilliant performance. Mercutio and Tybalt fail to survive the hatred that consumes them and Mercutio’s dying curse “A plague on both your houses” resonates firmly for the rest of the play – this vitriolic hatred ultimately destroys what could be a true love story. The acting, staging and production really brought the story alive, even for those like my husband who struggle with the language.
Crucially too, the love story is very believable. Lusty performances by Chris Gordon and Sophie Melville portray the relationship for what it was – teenage lust and passion in it’s all-consuming glory. The love story to end all love stories – and a sacrifice for that love that’s enduring legacy is the future peace of Vernona.
Beyond the performance, the atmosphere in the Sherman was buzzing. The venue is lively, colourful, modern and trendy – a perfect date night venue.
The bar was busy and we were too late for food but Foxy’s Kitchen now serve food there – I hope that on our next date night there we will get to experience it as the menu looks great.
Romeo and Juliet is showing at the Sherman until the 18th October 2014. I highly reccomend it.
2 – 18 October 7.30pm
Previews 2 – 4 October
Monday 6 & 13 October 6.00pm
£15 – £25
Previews £12 – £20
Concessions: £2 off
Under 25s: Half price