Romeo and Juliet (1988): Temba Theatre Company, Contact Theatre, Manchester, Young Vic Theatre
PrRomeo and Juliet (1988)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Mark Crowshaw (Tybalt); Joe Dixon (Mercutio); Yvonne Gidden (Nurse); David Harewood (Romeo); Georgia Slowe (Juliet).
The first performance of this production took place on 16 March 1988 at the Contact Theatre, Manchester and played there until 16 April 1988. It was a co-production between Temba and the Contact Theatre and, according to the press release, then went "on an extensive national tour which culminates in June at the Young Vic." The press release also notes that David Harewood made his professional debut in the production.
"This joint venture by the Temba Theatre Company and Contact benefits greatly from setting the doomed lovers in 1878 pre-revolutionary Cuba. Questions of racism and expansionism are throught-provoking additions as the rich parents fight old battles to regain power in the Spanish colonial land. David Harewood and Georgia Slowe are perfectly matched as Romeo and Juliet, and give the tragic pair a convincing body language the equal of any words of love. The production's constant mobility is most evident in Joe Dixon's dynamic Mercutio. A Spanish guitar played beautifully for almost the entire play by John Zaradin and a number of spectacular dance breaks by Elin Morgan as Rosaline add to the Cuban atmosphere. It is a credit to Alby James's adventurous, visually exciting direction that these additions enhance rather than detract from the language and the story." ~ Guy Nelson, Independent, 6 April 1988
"The setting neatly accommodates the production's racial mix (or, in the case of the Montagues and Capulets, its failure to mix) but also saddles it with a self-conscious exoticism which does not always come off. Some of the dance routines, for example, have a rather forced gaiety, perhaps because Temba do not have the resources to fill the stage with swirling skirts. John Zaradin provides Spanish music to match the setting on amplified acoustic guitar and synthesiser....The Birmingham actor David Harewood, in his first professional role, speaks the lines with impressive assurance and while his Romeo has a disarming adolescent gaucheness it is also clear that he is nobody's fool. Georgia Slowe's Juliet is also well spoken and brims with volatile energy. Joe Dixon - tall, thin, dreadlocked, frock coated, cane in hand - cuts a memorable figure as Mercutio and prefaces the Queen Mab speech with a casual but striking touch of gymnastics." ~ Terry Grimley, "Romeo and Juliet", Birmingham Post, 19 May 1988