Romeo & Juliet
Waterloo East Theatre
Reviewed – 28th June 2018
“an immense lack of energy from the performers, which rendered the beautiful words they were speaking almost useless”
When facing the prospect of going to see any production of ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – arguably Shakespeare’s most universally-known play – the first question that pops into my head is how will this production be different from all the other Romeo and Juliets that have either been done or are running now? Upon entering the theatre at Waterloo East for Controlled Chaos’ crack at this timeless tale of love and heartache, my hopes were high. Disco lights, high-energy club music and the cast huddled together in centre stage draped in rainbow flags. The setting was a gay club, aptly named ‘Capulets’, during pride, and for this brief moment in between entering the theatre and the start of the play, there was a genuine excitement for a potentially fresh and unusual approach to Romeo and Juliet. This excitement, unfortunately, ended with the first words of the play. From then on, the audience were presented with yet another amateur Shakespeare production lacking originality or conviction.
There was an immense lack of energy from the performers, which rendered the beautiful words they were speaking almost useless. There were numerous occasions where lines were too quiet, or actors were facing with their back to the audience. This and other issues were clear examples of a show that was lacking clear direction. This was particularly evident in the many pivotal scenes between Romeo and Juliet (both of whom were women in this production). All of the subtleties and deftness of Shakespeare’s language in these scenes were replaced with tiresome snogging and aimless wandering on stage. Thankfully Kevin Kamara and Olivia Thompson provided some much needed moments of energy and purpose as Mercutio and Nurse respectively.
What was perhaps most disappointing was that the production promised something very different to what was actually presented. The play took place during gay pride, and yet there was only one gay couple in the whole piece. The company stated in the programme that one of their goals was ‘to give women a chance to take centre stage in the male dominated classics’. Apart from making Romeo a woman, the show remained heavily dominated by men. These two stylistic choices appear to have been thought of, but not completely carried out. This means that what could have been a unique production has simply fallen into the category of uninspiring Shakespeare shows that you will undoubtedly find in other theatres this summer. On a night where the English football team failed to beat Belgium to top their group, this was also a flat and uninspiring performance.
Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich
Photography by Florence Odumosu
Romeo & Juliet
Waterloo East Theatre until 30th June
Previously at this venue