Romeo and Juliet (1995): Contact Theatre, Manchester
PrRomeo and Juliet (1995)
PRINCIPAL CAST: Dominic Arnold (Mercutio); Ray Emmet Brown (Tybalt); Elizabeth Chadwick (Juliet); Simon Scardifield (Romeo); Gillian Wright (Nurse).
This production ran from 25 October - 18 November 1995.
"Russian director Irina Brown has produced a boldly innovative Romeo and Juliet that seems apt for the Contact's intended audience of 'young people'. Closer in style to pop videos than to the romantic naturalism of Zeffirelli's movie, it still treats the text with clarity and feeling. Its conventions are those of eastern European theatre - the relished emotional riffs, the central, adaptable visual image. In Andrew Wood's abstract, futuristic design - a row of steps across the Contact's wide end stage, huge perspectival battlements against a stucco cyclorama - that image is a tower in a circular steel treadmill, serving as both balcony and entrance to the vault, with a tinstrip thunder-clap that echoes the violence. Simon Mills's moody lighting is integral to setting the scene. The playing, by an exceptionally young and energetic company, is intensely physical. Movement director Sarah Harper brings a 1996 style of line dancing to the Capulets' banquet; Romeo leaps and writhes on that steel structure to touch Juliet's fingertips." ~ Robin Thornber, Guardian, 8 November 1995
"...high physicality is Irina Brown's style. The fights, staged by Renny Krupinski, are genuinely thrilling, but some of the posturing by Mercutio and the other 'testosteroni' is tiresomely embellished. This expressionism is complemented by Andrew Wood's spacious, abstract set. It's hard to see the point of a slender ramp that suddenly heads vertically for the roof, but the huge thunder sheet serving for alarum, percussive effect and finally the doomy clang of Juliet's tomb is a fine inspiration." ~ Jeffrey Wainwright, Independent, 8 November 1995