The humanities department have been working closely with Ipswich Town and Waterfront Website to encourage our students to get creative and exhibit their writing skills. On Monday 6th October 2 of our English students were selected to showcase their journalistic review writing skills by attending the latest performance of Rome and Juliet at The New Wolsey Theatre. The conditions were that the reviews had to be written and submitted within 36 hours just like a standard newspaper and the quality of writing had to be exemplary and within a 300 word limit. Please enjoy the reviews by Sam Betts-Davies and Kathryn Philpot.
Romeo and Juliet – The New Wolsey Theatre Ipswich – Custom/Practice - Monday 6th October
This production of Romeo and Juliet was dynamic, intense, and incredibly diverse across many genres of theatre giving the famous tragedy a face-lift just for the 21st century young theatregoer. In a vibrant piece that seemingly brings together Shakespeare and West Side Story in an elaborate mix of dance, physical theatre and realism.
As the audience piles into the theatre’s intimate auditorium, one by one the unidentifiable characters enter the stage seemingly milling around creating a village square like scene, some even breaking the fourth wall and engaging with the front row. When the lights drop a thunderous drum and bass line starts with devastating effect; launching the first high-octane dance routine. Such dance continued throughout the piece and was particularly memorable during the fight scene of Tybalt (Nathan Armarkwei) and Marcutio (David North). On the other hand, the physicality of Romeo’s (Arun Blair-Mangat) love for Juliet was huge, really leaving a lasting impression on the audience.
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, was presented less so with the thick comedy overriding the intervals emotions but for the tragic death of Marcutio, the main source of the acts wit. Even so, it appeared to be a particularly tame interpretation, with heavily sexualised characters such as Marcutio and the Nurse (Michelle Cornelius), giving the text a very different tone.
Pick of the performances were that of fair Juliet, played by Remmie Milner, displaying the true youth and innocence of the over protected Capulet child. Further flattering was her pain and raw emotion that truly flipped the tone of the piece on its head, thrusting the lacking tragic elements straight back at the audience after the interval. The on stage relationship between her and the nurse, was so close and easy to watch.
This accessible piece of Shakespeare was perhaps one of the most manageable of Shakespeare performances any young enthusiast could wish to see. With the poetic language weaved into the interpretive dance custom/practice’s interpretation of such a classic really was a pleasure to watch.
Romeo and Juliet by Custom/Practice and Newbury Corn Exchange
As a literature student, I have seen many adaptations of Romeo and Juliet and each one has attempted to make the story more accessible to young people, to varying degrees of success. I may have been sceptical before the performance started but that soon changed.
Simplicity can be very effective and this company uses it to their advantage. The costumes, the set, the music and lighting were all simple and kept the focus on where it should have been, on the dancing and the acting. The dancing was stupendous, wonderfully choreographed and led to very intense moments, whether they were based around romance or violence. In terms of acting, I needn’t even explain the comedic gold that came from Mercutio (portrayed as a sort of ‘Lord Flashheart’ character) and the Nurse. They brought entertainment to the slower scenes and added more to the high energy moments, keeping the audience engaged at all times.
The main thing I absolutely adored, however, was the characterisation of Romeo and Juliet. Their characters are usually quite generic and the focus is mostly on the tragedy of their love, in this version it’s not quite so. Romeo is overdramatic and immature, Juliet impatient for love; they were acting their age. It’s really refreshing to see the immaturity of their relationship and how they slowly begin to realise how things aren’t always going to go their own way. Their relationship is now seen as unrealistic and it was pleasant to see the characters portrayed in a way that young people can identify with and recognise when they used to feel like that.
I hope that this company continues to produce more intriguing and beautiful productions, I would be the first to purchase tickets.