Romeo and Juliet (1997): Belgrade Theatre, Coventry

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Live Performance

PRINCIPAL CAST: Wendy Baxter (Juliet); Denise Bryson (Nurse); Joseph Jones (Romeo); Darren Warner (Tybalt); Miltos Yerolemou (Mercutio).

This production ran from 30 October - 15 November 1997.

"A young cast is aiming to bring Shakespeare's classic love story of Romeo and Juliet to life in Coventry. The Belgrade Theatre is staging a new production of the famous tale set in a fictional Central American Verona filled with Caribbean music, carnivals and sunshine."  ~ "Wherefore art thou Romeo dude?", Coventry Evening Telegraph, 9 October 1997

"The play opens with Romeo's lads in a seedy pool hall as they are rudely interrupted by the Capulet crew. The brawling begins and the tragedy is set in motion. Instead of swords, pool cues and flick knives are used in highly stylised fight sequences that are often interesting but not entirely realistic. The total vision of the play is very promising from the beginning; attractive sets and calypso music are combined with Thriller-like ball masks and an energetic dance routine to create an interesting fusion of audio and visual. The problem was that the energy in the first half fizzled out in the lacklustre second half. A puzzling aspect of the production was the array of accents that were adopted by the cast. Owing to the merging of Italian American and West Indian communities you might have expected the cast to use one of the two accents. Instead, we were offered a mish-mash of bizarre affectation, which raised questions about the clarity of the director's concept. For example, Lord Capulet's first appearance on a barber's chair, and the Nurse and Lady Capulet's Italian accents made you feel as though you had wandered onto the set of a special mafia edition of Desmond's. The main problem, however, ws the array of accents hindered one's empathy for the characters; particularly Paris, whose Texan drawl made any sympathy for him disappear as quickly as chickens escaping from Colonel Sanders. Juliet's high-pitched Italian accent was also mildly irritating and prevented the actress from engaging with the role. These problems were offset by strong performances from Josef [sic] Jones in the lead role, but this and Mercutio's bawdy flamboyancy were let down in the second half when the demands of the play turned it into an emotional free for all."  ~ Ami Suchak and Vicky Storer, "Hard on the Bard", Warwick Boar, 4 November 1997