Romeo and Juliet (1989): Oracle Productions, Holland Park Open Air Theatre, London

PrRomeo and Juliet (

Location: Holland Park Open Air Theatre, London
Live Performance

"This trendy modern dress production, which mixes Rap and James Brown, biking shorts and bandannas, Ray-Bans and pinstripe shirts, seems to adopt the racial factor, casting a coloured Romeo with a white Juliet. Unorthodox it may be, but Mr Benedict's production remains vacant, unexciting, and so erratic that it appears to be clumsy, if not amateurish....Following an embarrassingly bad start, which could be put down to nerves and forgotten lines, (and may be forgiveable?), the show neither, evokes a depth of feeling/understanding for the characters, or finds it necessary to remain consistent between time and place. The result of either miscasting or just ham acting, makes Andrew Johnson's Romeo limp and barely believeable. Finding it difficult to flow with the prose [sic], his delivery is sluggish, often flat and his demeanour static. Sarah Reed's Juliet, although never outstanding, outshines her hero by far. Paul Anil as an ageing Lord Montague struggles throughout. However, Karl Seth's pencil moustached Mercutio, attired in green suit and dark glasses, playing an apparently randy rascal, does stand out as one of the better characterisations." ~ Khalid Omer Javed, What's On, 5 July 1989, in London Theatre Record, 18 June - 1 July 1989, Issue 13

"Peter Benedict's production often resembles an action adventure film. Characters traverse the wide stage at full tilt, Tybalt spurts blood as he falls beneath Romeo's sword, and dramatic high spots are played out to the accompaniment of urgent background music. The younger generation of Montagues wear trendy gear and stride around the streets with a ghetto blaster. All the briskness, however, can't conceal the relative superficiality of this interpretation of the play, which rattles through an edited version of the story in a little over two hours without once providing anything more than a very basic reading of the characters. Sarah Reed's Juliet is more subtly presented than most, though even here there's a tendency to take refuge in shouting as a way of signifying extreme emotions. Andrew Johnson's Romeo is a cool charmer with a winning smile and no discernible capacity for strong feelings. This helps to make the latter stages of the tragedy peculiarly unconvincing." ~ Malcolm Hay, Time Out, 5 July 1989, in London Theatre Record, 18 June - 1 July 1989, Issue 13

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