Tag Archives: Creation Theatre

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet


Online via creationtheatre.co.uk

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

Online via creationtheatre.co.uk

Reviewed – 16th May 2021



“an intriguing adaption and a creative and unique piece of digital theatre”


Two households, both alike in dignity. Those famous lines are how Shakespeare’s most well-known tragedy usually begins. Except in this interactive online version, I find myself on a Zoom call alongside a great many households, watching live as the fight kicks off between the two feuding families.

One of the key selling points of this fun and fresh reinvention of a much-loved classic is the interactive element – where the audience can make decisions about the characters’ fates. For my first choice, I have chosen to be a Montague, and so I begin the play witnessing the initial street brawl between the two sides and then dashing off to see Romeo (Kofi Dennis), Mercutio (Dharmesh Patel) and Benvolio (Harmony Rose Bremner) preparing for their night at the Capulets.

How to stage a play on Zoom is a question many theatre companies have grappled with over the past year and designer Ryan Dawson Laight and director Natasha Rickman have come up with a worthy and bold solution. Performing individually, the actors swim onto brightly-coloured ghostly backgrounds, where characters overlap each other and become both big and small. After a short adjustment period, it soon becomes immersive – an ethereal and inviting experience.

As we enter the party and meet the Capulets, the story moves swiftly on to another Zoom call, where our hero meets his Juliet (Annabelle Terry), but is also pursued by the watching eyes of Tybalt (Sebastian Capitan Viveros) and Lord Capulet (Graeme Rose), setting the familiar chain of events in motion.

Then it is back to the company’s website, where the choice-making element of the production truly begins, interspersed with pre-recorded scenes. As well as the decisions – laid out on tarot cards – there are also valiant attempts to engage with the Zoom audience and to add a bit of personalisation to the performance. These additional bits are interesting, but it is hard to add very much new material to such a well-trodden story and I am often unsure how much impact each decision I make has.

I hope it is not a spoiler to say that, despite my choices and the combined efforts of Sister Lauren (Clare Humphrey, as a gender-swapped Friar Lawrence) and the nurse (Katy Stephens), I do not manage to save the star-crossed lovers. But there are hints throughout the production that a more discerning viewer might be able to…

Along with the staging, the combined efforts of music and sound (Matt Eaton) and movement and choreography (Simon Pittman) work well for the fight and dance scenes, but perhaps less so for the love scenes. The actors largely adapt happily to the digital realm, with some stand-out performances. Kofi Dennis as Romeo is particularly good, embodying all the angst and passion you would expect from the young hero. And Dharmesh Patel brings an ominous, almost-creepy air to Mercutio that works surprisingly well. Support from the rest of the cast (Giles Stoakley, Vera Chok, Viss Elliot Safavi, Lola Boulter and Andy Owens) also adds depth to the performance.

With all of its additional elements, this Romeo and Juliet is an intriguing adaption and a creative and unique piece of digital theatre.


Reviewed by Vicky Richards


Romeo and Juliet

Online via creationtheatre.co.uk until 23rd May


Have you read this review?

Preludes in Concert | ★★★★★ | Online | May 2021


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Pictures of Dorian Gray – D

Jermyn Street Theatre

Pictures of Dorian Gray - D

Pictures of Dorian Gray – D

Jermyn Street Theatre

Reviewed – 12th June 2019



“this Dorian-meets-Dracula interpretation has left the story drained of its lifeblood”


Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray – about the beautiful young man whose portrait grows old and marred over the years, while he remains a picture of innocent youth – is famous enough to be familiar even if you haven’t read it. The novel doesn’t lend itself well to the stage, and it’s an ambitious choice for an adaptation. Unfortunately, Tom Littler and Lucy Shaw’s one-note show doesn’t capture the complexity of Wilde’s writing.

Directed by Littler and adapted by Shaw, Pictures of Dorian Gray is titled in the plural to reflect its twist: the cast rotates through four different performances (‘Pictures’), gender swapping Dorian (Stanton Wright or Helen Reuben), Wotton (Richard Keightley or Augustina Seymour), Basil (Rueben or Wright), and Sibyl Vane (Seymour or Keightley).

The performances are strong all around – Reuben (Picture D) stands out for her portrayal of Dorian’s gradually souring innocence. However, the characters, and the intrigue around their gender-swapped dynamics, are drowned by Littler and Shaw’s heavily stylised presentation, which focuses solely on the darkness in Wilde’s story at the expense of all other elements. The aesthetic is gothic horror. The set is a sparse, black room with stark hanging lights and gothic mirrors (William Reynolds). The costumes are Victorian-influenced black robes (Emily Stuart). Disappointingly, this Dorian-meets-Dracula interpretation has left the story drained of its lifeblood. I found myself regularly reaching back to the novel for its colour and humour to contrast the hollow, unvarying bleakness of the production.

The characters who aren’t in scene slowly pace the edges of the stage, interspersing the dialogue with monotone prose from the novel, or blankly chanting scrambled, dissociated quotes. The constant repetition of echoing words – “Books. Mirror. Realism. Art. Art. Art.” – is grating and meaningless. The effect is a joyless, alienating tone. A few half-hearted chuckles from a handful of audience members survive the cleansing, but mostly the production dispenses with what is entertaining and engaging in favour of being confrontationally cold. Wilde would be the last person to take himself as seriously as this show wants to.

There’s plenty of darkness in Wilde’s works, but it’s insidious. In his plays, he slips his criticism into the comedy like razors. In The Picture of Dorian Gray, it takes a while to realise it’s a horror story. His writing lures you in with its warmth and humour, pretty dresses and lovely gardens. He’s still making light, witty jokes in the final chapters. Wilde is never straightforward. He’s very funny when he’s serious, and sincerity is his way of being playful. Littler and Shaw have missed this entirely.

In its attempt to stuff the story into a simplistic, one-note horror box, Pictures of Dorian Gray has stripped away the humour, the subtlety, the contradictions, all of Wilde’s colours, and left only black. It’s necessary to remember the original Dorian Gray is hugely enjoyable, even if Littler and Shaw want to argue it isn’t.


Reviewed by Addison Waite

Photography by  S R Taylor


Pictures of Dorian Gray – D

Jermyn Street Theatre until 6th July

The cast switch roles at different performances, giving you a choice of four versions:  A – Male Dorian with male Wotton, B – Male Dorian with female Wotton, C – Female Dorian with male Wotton and D – Female Dorian with female Wotton. See Jermyn Street Theatre website for dates each version is performed.


Last ten shows reviewed at this venue:
Tomorrow at Noon | ★★★★ | May 2018
Stitchers | ★★★½ | June 2018
The Play About my Dad | ★★★★ | June 2018
Hymn to Love | ★★★ | July 2018
Burke & Hare | ★★★★ | November 2018
Original Death Rabbit | ★★★★★ | January 2019
Agnes Colander: An Attempt At Life | ★★★★ | February 2019
Mary’s Babies | ★★★ | March 2019
Creditors | ★★★★ | April 2019
Miss Julie | ★★★ | April 2019


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