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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  London Theatre Reviews

 
ROMEO AND JULIET
at Shakespeare’s Globe

YOUNG LOVE RUNS SHALLOW
By MICHAEL COVENEY

  Ellie Kendrick/Ph: John Haynes

A few days before the new summer season opened in late April at Shakespeare's Globe, a profile of the new Romeo, Adetomiwa Edun, appeared in one of the newspapers saying what a terribly nice chap he was but not giving much else away beyond his age (twenty-five) and where he went to school (Eton College).

Edun may well therefore be the first black Old Etonian to play Romeo on the London stage - this is not without interest at a time when the London Evening Standard has just appointed its first white Old Etonian theatre critic (Henry Hitchings) to succeed  Nicholas de Jongh.

And frankly, that's about all there is to say about Edun at the moment. He may one day bloom as an actor and the garden of Edun will be a worthwhile destination. But as Shakespeare's febrile lover boy he's a bit of a wash-out, overburdened with the niceness attributed to him by his drum-beating chum in the soft soap profile.

He's limber and lithe, alright, but he's never choked up with love or straining at the leash and you get very little idea of a temperament that would switch quite so easily from the unseen Rosaline to the daughter of the host at the Capulet fancy dress ball he gatecrashes with his Montagu mates.

His Juliet is the equally inexperienced Ellie Kendrick, an actress who recently played Anne Frank in a tea-time BBC television adaptation of the famous diary that had me screaming at the Nazi officers as they stormed the Amsterdam apartments in search of Jews, "She's in the attic!"

To be fair, my personal antipathy to these star-crossed lovers has not been widely shared, and Dominic Dromgoole's fourth season in charge at the Globe has been launched on a tide of good will. The Globe is now firmly established as the most popular venue in London -last summer's season attracted over 330,000 theatre-goers over the course of 253 performances, grossing more than pound5.3 million (about US Dollars 5m) in ticket sales and an average 83% capacity. And there were eight different shows at a venue that still operates without public subsidy.

But everything's just a bit uneasy about Dromgoole's new production, and Simon Daw's design does not deal with the two downstage pillars as well as it should, and the staging has no convincing answer to the challenges posed by the lovers' tryst after the balcony scene, or the climactic disasters in the vaulted crypt. The outdoor scenes are handled with more assurance, with terrific fights arranged by Malcolm Ranson, and Nigel Hess's music bathes the action in some magical madrigals and villanellas.

The singers play minor roles, too, notably in the case of Jack Farthing, a striking Benvolio. The cast also includes a fairly good mercurial Mercutio by Philip Cumbus, who is more troubled than usual- the fine New Zealand Maori actor Rawiri Paratene as a well-meaning and always plausible Friar Lawrence and an outstandingly clear and sympathetic Nurse from Penny Layden, nothing like the old fusspots that litter British stage history.

Ian Redford's imposing Capulet (well partnered by Miranda Foster as his wife) raises the decibel level single-handedly as he rages incontinently against his daughter who doesn't really suggest any comprehensible objections to Tom Stuart's Paris as a putative spouse- at least you understand that her teenage tantrums have nothing to do with being in love, more with having a strop with her dad. 

 


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