Tag Archives: Bebe Barry

Romeo & Juliet


Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet


Reviewed – 22nd July 2019



“this talented young company knows when to change gear and transport us to the essence of Shakespeare’s words and emotions”


Brighton, 1964. Whitsun weekend becomes a landmark for an explosion of youth identity during riots between the tribal subcultures of mods and rockers. Setting the mood for Exploding Whale’s new version of ‘Romeo and Juliet’, it encapsulates the pent-up teenage energy and passion which simmer under the surface, ready to boil over in rage or jealousy or love. It may be a timeless tragedy, but this production pinpoints an era of adolescent unrest and disobedience, clearly identifiable in its music and fashion.

As we sit on the beach in deckchairs, the two families appear. Dressed as expected, the use of colour gives them an added stylish unity – rockers in jeans and leathers with a touch of bright red, mods in fashionable black and purple. Detailed lighting and sound (Louis Caro) punctuate scenes and enhance the ambience. The first half lends itself well to its new environment with the initial street fight and the Montagues gate-crashing the Capulet’s party (cue for music) but it takes a while to tune into certain updated roles due to the mixture of accents and unforgiving acoustics, especially in the round. As the narrative is not always clear, we are initially drawn to the more accessible personalities and by the time they are at the Capulet’s, eyes are drawn to dancing partners, Mercutio and the Nurse. However, this is followed by a beautifully powerful balcony scene which seals the play’s integrity and tone. In the second half, with some arresting and intrepid acting, it is the core of Shakespeare’s story which takes over from the 60s landscape until, towards the end, only the music reminds us where we are.

Ben Woodhall’s direction is an original but astute understanding of the script; there are novel takes on the characters, inventive staging and well-shaped dynamic flow. Teddy Morris plays a very real Romeo with a combination of sentiment and honesty which, coupled with Bebe Barry’s shining yet intense innocence as Juliet, gives a fresh and truly moving performance of a classic moment. In supporting roles, Billy Dunmore’s excellent portrayal as Mercutio is immediately charming as the fun best friend but equally bitter as he lies dying; Alex Harvey (Tybalt) brings a raw aggressive presence, Joe Bonfield gives Friar Laurence a contrasting solemnity and in a somewhat fishwife version of the Nurse, Lily Smith creates an interesting and vivid new persona.

With its own youthful energy, Exploding Whale succeeds in presenting an enjoyable and fully-fledged ‘Romeo and Juliet’. Yes, the show does have its foot-tapping moments as promised, but this talented young company knows when to change gear and transport us to the essence of Shakespeare’s words and emotions.


Reviewed by Joanna Hetherington

Photography courtesy Exploding Whale


Romeo and Juliet

Katzpace until 30th July 2019


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Obsession | ★★★ | June 2018
Let’s Get Lost | ★★★ | July 2018
Serve Cold | ★★ | August 2018
Much Ado About Nothing | ★★★★ | October 2018
Motherhood or Madness | ★★★ | November 2018
Specky Ginger C*nt | ★★½ | November 2018
Dead Reckoning | ★★½ | May 2019
Everything Today Is The Same | ★★★ | May 2019
Fight. Flight. Freeze. Fuck. | ★★★ | May 2019
You’re Dead Mate | ★★★★ | June 2019


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Let’s Get Lost – 3 Stars


Let’s Get Lost

Katzpace Studio Theatre

Reviewed – 29th July 2018


“Barry has created characters that heavily contrast with one another, and yet very believably get along”


Continuing their residency at the Katzenjammer Bierkeller, Exploding Whale’s production of ‘Let’s Get Lost’ (an original piece inspired by J.M. Barrie’s ‘Peter Pan’) follows the lives of Wez and her four closest friends in an imagined seaside town. The story takes place after the death of Wez’s Mum, and the supposed death of her brother, and shows how all the characters cope with loss, changing friendships and growing up. It is the first play written by cast member Bebe Barry, and only the second production for this budding company.

Coinciding with the start of the Camden Fringe, London is currently awash with companies just like this, all aiming to put their mark on the over-crowded London theatrical map. Whilst many of these productions will go down as highly amateur, this will not be one of them. As soon as I entered the space I realised how excellent an idea it was to perform a play in a bierkeller. The huge underground beer hall was transformed into a lush green park, surrounded by fairy lights and deck chairs. Plus there was a bar with a wide range of beers at the back of the room. It was a refreshing and welcoming environment to walk into, and left the audience at ease that what they were about to see would be enjoyable and professional.

The real triumph of this piece is how Barry has created characters that heavily contrast with one another, and yet very believably get along. Each character provides a different presence and energy, whilst also slotting into the dynamic of the friendship group seamlessly. This is an excellent indicator of both good writing, and a company of actors that work well together. The characters that stood out most were Pup and Alfie, played by Bebe Barry and Julian Bailey-Jones respectively. The energy both of these characters gave off was impossible to ignore, and provided the audience with the most enjoyable and satisfying moments of the play.

By contrast however, there were too many other moments throughout where the energy was low, and the piece lacked the urgency that seemed necessary. It was commendable that a play centred on death didn’t focus too much on the negative; however it was a theme that wasn’t given enough severity or dramatic significance. These moments of low energy made the script seem amateur.

If you are a keen theatre goer then chances are that you are going to see a lot of theatre this month. I doubt you will see any new companies who are as professionally organised and well produced as these guys. I do hope, however, you will get to see pieces and performances with more urgency and drama. Still, I see this show only getting better as they continue their run.


Reviewed by Edward Martin

Photography courtesy Exploding Whale



Let’s Get Lost

Katzpace Studio Theatre until 31st July


Previously reviewed at this venue
What the… Feminist?! | ★★★★ | April 2018
Gaps | ★★★ | April 2018
Obsession | ★★★ | June 2018


Click here to see more of our latest reviews on thespyinthestalls.com