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Shakespeare Romeo & Juliet
and Troilus & Cressida

Holly Atkins Lady Montaguerj
Philip Cumbus Mercutio
Adetomiwa Edun Romeo
Jack Farthing Benvolio
Miranda Foster Lady Capulet
Ellie Kendrick Juliet
James Lailey Friar John/Sampson
Penny Layden Nurse
Fergal McElherron Balthazaar/Peter
Michael O’Hagan Montague
Rawiri Paratene Friar Lawrence
Ian Redford Capulet
Ukweli Roach Tybalt
Tom Stuart Paris
Graham Vick Apothecary
Andrew Vincent Prince

Directed by Dominic Dromgoole
Designed by Simon Daw
Composed by Nigel Hess
Choreographed by Sian Williams

Shakespeare’s Globe, Bankside, London SE1 9DT until 23 August Images: Kurt Egyiawan

A sense of irrepressible life-forces emanates from this absorbing presentation of Romeo & Juliet. Splashes of playful and sometimes vulgar bawdiness erupt like unpredictable bangers at a fireworks party as Romeo flutters around his Juliet like a giddy butterfly. They are blinded by blissful expectant love, but err on the side of innocence and inexperience and lack of some of the emotional depth expected from a pair prepared to be swept up by powerful burgeoning currents of sexuality which propel them to their doom.

On our night Adetomiwa Edun's diction was less clear than some of the minor characters and Ellie Kendrick sounded a little hoarse. The irrepressibly piping nurse, Penny Laden, always made herself heard and by contrast the "elders" came across as clearly ineffectual at controlling the pent-up feelings of the younger generation.

The inescapable connection with present-day gang warfare felt scary. The blind fury which can turn with lightning speed into a deadly, testosterone-fuelled brawl and fight to the death was rendered with terrifying realism, and sent shivers down the spine.

Dromgoole's thoughtful production gives space for the text to breathe. The music inherent in the sound-play of words between the actors is not unlike the orchestration of characterful instruments in a symphonic ensemble. If you have the chance to get to the Globe and renew your acquaintance with Shakespeare's tale, you will be richly rewarded.

Shakespeare's Globe, which took a long time to open and begin to realise Sam Wanamaker's vision, has really "come of age", and is supported by excellent promotional material. The press packs include an inspiring Annual Review, lavishly illustrated, and the programmes for each play are far better than the norm.

Alexa Woolf

Whilst Romeo & Juliet has of course inspired many well-loved musical compositions familiar to our readers, there is not much music written into the play. Music is importantly built into all the productions at Shakespeare’s Globe, taking advantage of the expertise of the Musicians of the Globe, whom we have previously reviewed on CD and in concert.**

A nice CD has been rapidly produced of Nigel Hess's specially composed music for R & J, an excellent memento for patrons of the show.

The next stage, surely, will be to create DVDs to bring the theatre and its unique productions to wider audiences (and as invaluable aids for schoolchildren studying plays in the Globe's repertoire).

Peter Grahame Woolf

Romeo & Juliet on DVD

Film Director Kris Russman

Opus Arte OA DVD 1029-D [Filmed August 2009]

£ 19.99 from Shakespeare's Globe

This important DVD, with a summertime audience of groundlings crowding Shakespeare's Globe, is a landmark in the realisation of Sam Wanamaker's vision.

With Adetomiwa Edun's Romeo and Ellie Kendrick's Juliet greatly matured since we reviewed the first night, and everything captured ideally by camera and microphones, it made for riveting home viewing, both entertaining and and deeply moving.

And it should transform the experience of "doing" Romeo & Juliet in school, especially for children who live too far to get to the Globe.

Opus Arte is to be congratulated for taking it on alongside their dedication to the Royal Opera and Ballet at Covent Garden, and it must be hoped that filmings at Shakespeare's Globe will become routine every summer.

Far better than any of the studio films of Shakespeare, it should find a place in every DVD collection and school library.


P.S. I am delighted to learn that As You Like It (directed by Thea Sharrock, film director Kris Russman) & Love’s Labour’s Lost (directed by Dominic Dromgoole, film director by Ian Russell) are planned for cinema and DVD in 2010

“Dromgoole is blessed with a smashing pair of young lovers. Adetomiwa Edun's Romeo is fresh, cheeky, light on his feet and full of the ebullience of young love... The production's secret weapon is Ellie Kendrick... delivers the jewelled verse with a lovely purity and directness. I particularly admired Rawiri Paratene's impassioned Friar Lawrence, Ian Redford as a Capulet, and Tom Stuart's hilarious performance as a socially inept Count Paris” Daily Telegraph

** SHEWES, REVELS and A NOBLE NOYSE Queen Elizabeth Hall, September 1999. Philip Pickett had organised his annual autumn festival at South Bank Centre - - with Pickett's Musicians of the Globe in a programme of songs and dances from Jacobean Court masques. (The previous day I had enjoyed hearing the wind players and drummers making a major contribution to Julius Caesar, given at the Globe Theatre in the original five acts form, with five minute intervals for exercise, refreshment and music; a commendable scheme.)

Troilus & Cressida

Jamie Ballard Ulysses
Ben Bishop Paris
Olivia Chaney Andromache
Christopher Colquhoun Hector
Matthew Flynn Agamemnon
Trystan Gravelle Achilles
Richard Hansell Menelaus/Alexander
Paul Hunter Thersites
Fraser James Aeneas
Matthew Kelly Pandarus
Séamus O’Neill Priam/Calchas
Laura Pyper Cressida
Ania Sowinski Helen/Cassandra
John Stahl Nestor
Paul Stocker Troilus
Jay Taylor Diomedes/Helenus
Beru Tessema Patroclus
Chinna Wodu Ajax


Director Matthew Dunster
Designed Anna Fleischle
Composed Olly Fox
Choreographed Aline David

Shakespeare's Globe, 29 August 2009

Troilus (Paul Stocker), Pandarus (Matthew Kelly) and Cressida (Laura Pyper). (Photo by John Tramper)

This had problems for us. Musically, there are few opportunities, and ending the first half by having Cressida up on the balcony singing a pop song had no discernible logic, through it was a sure crowd pleaser, as are the dances with which the Globe ends its shows...

Of the cast, the conservatism of Ulysses’ famous conservative speech about social order was delivered with due weight by Jamie Ballard (but see Andrew Griffin 8/9 for a critical analysis of it, turned up by Google Search) and Laura Pyper as Cressida was a particular delight; a high spot was her run-away disclosure to Pandarus of her love for Troilus (they are pictured above). .

A "difficult" play, virtually unknown and unperformed until the 1920s, the text is lengthy and dense. I re-read it in preparation, and was once again astounded by Shakespear's depth of background knowledge surfacing in allusions to forgotten literature... A lot of the subtleties were not easy to follow in the Globe acoustic, despite valiant efforts by the cast, so after a time I opened my copy as an aid to concentration. That worked well, but it was disconcerting to discover how savage were the cuts on every page! No one is attributed, and they had the appearance of a crude computer Cut and Join exercise, solely aimed to reduce the playing time.

Perhaps something of the kind is usual for this play's revivals, I know not, and some consideration is certainly due to the Globe's patient "groudlings", who are kept standing upright throughout by vigilant ushers !

My last (very indirect) contact with Troilus & Cressida had been through Walton's ill-fated opera...

Peter Grahame Woolf