Romeo and Juliet is not my favourite play and I think that it is because I get so frustrated with Romeo and the way he constantly changes his mind. It’s this lack of focus which ends up with Metruchio being killed. I found this production a little too fussy. Firstly, there was a sense of stopping the action for asides and soliloquies. Characters would click their fingers the lights went down and other characters froze. Secondly, the men wore stylish Italian suits and brought out flick knives when they were feeling threatened and wanted to start fights. This was so much of a cliche. Thirdly, the set was very dark with a black wall and stage. This meant the darkness ran through the whole production and the comedy was played down. Peter had to work very hard for his laughs and the nurse wasn’t really funny as she was too much like Lady Capulet.
The bed became a recurring motif. It was the balcony, the marriage bed and then the death bed. Finally the bed became the monument where Juliet was buried.
The theatre, on the nights I went, was full of young people and there was a real buzz. This production was clearly part of the ‘Stand up for Shakespeare’ promotion and there was an attempt to present the play in such a way that would grip younger theatregoers. I felt that the director tried to hard, and maybe there were too many gimmicks when Shakespeare’s language does the job perfectly well.
RSC Resources: http://www.rsc.org.uk/explore/plays/romeo.htm