Thursday, 9 October 2014

Romeo & Juliet at Sherman Cymru


Rachel O'Riordan has arrived at the Sherman Cymru. I have no doubt of the pressure of being The New Artistic Director. Completely, like, that- an emphasis on any first production.

Maybe it's a reflection of Rachel's character- Dream Amazing. I have no idea. But, yep, if that were the case, Romeo & Juliet would be an obvious choice.
Alternatively, just completely brave.

Press Night. I was probably a rare member of the audience. Romeo & Juliet was a set text, but more latterly (more my recent than is the reality) Baz Luhrmann is my reference point. I have never seen this classic on the stage, I took my mum- (even) she had.

And yes, I took my mum.
My mum, the person who introduced me to theatre, who took me to the ballet, who introduced me, before I turned 10, to Diversions, contemporary dance, back in the day, only found at the Sherman Theatre.
My motivation was 'quite-a-few-fold', I wanted to take my mum- she's my mum, she does an enormous amount for me, and I know she 'moans' that she doesn't get to see me enough (really, it's hard to believe, but I like to think she's genuine), she's my mum and enjoys nights out, she now usually just gets out to the two 'main' theatres in Cardiff, and yet she's the person who introduced me to contemporary theatre. I couldn't understand that bit, but thought... I sort of wanted to see, from someone who is obviously older than me, in that of my age, how different two generations would enjoy the performance.

And I loved the fact we both enjoyed it.
Admittedly, my mum remains the romantic, and was sadly disappointed that the interpretation didn't lend itself to changing the ending.
But we were both agreed, the translation was fantastic.
It was modern, but not timebound, the set was edgy, and relevant, it was anywhere most people could associate with.
And yes, accommodating Veuve De Clicquot and Stella, is definitely a match in (my reality) heaven.

More relevantly, if I were introducing my daughter (you know, in ten years time) to Shakepeare, this would be how I'd want her to experience his works.
I loved that this was her today, expressed in the words of yesterday.
With the echo of so many dialects, it was not placed, but everywhere.
It was, at times, the Wales, the Gavin & Stacey, of living in England,
But it was a pause,
And in a moment it was the raw reality of love and hurt.
Of course, I was captured by Romeo (Chris Gordon) and Juliet (Sophie Melville).
I am in awe of this being Chris' introduction to professional theatre.
This portrayal, the design, the atmosphere.
Everything coming together.
No doubt, supported by an amazing cast and crew.
This just felt the most real relationship.

And so, with the audience connected to the catalysts so the Capulets and Montagues are appreciated.
There is so much worthy of note, I could not breathe in the interval for the mourning of Mercutio's (Scott Reid) passing. Could the production still live success?

For me, it was the performance of the Friar Lawrence (Sean O'Callaghan) which captures the essence, the solidarity, the appreciation, the reality, of love presented.
I was encaptured, and yes, completely sold. The rawness of appreciating love. The ability to sacrifice all for love.
I have no doubt, that in other ways the catalysts were the supporting cast.
For the enthralling performance of Sara Lloyd-Gregory (Lady Capsulet), the camp portrayal by Tony Flynn as Peter. And, it should go without saying, that never has a pink velour tracksuit been dominated, so much so than Anita Reynolds as the Nurse.

There was so much about the production which err-ed from the text, the study of the detail.
But, life, life is about relevance, and now, to me, with children, more so than ever, is about seeing the beauty, associating with the relevance, looking at the detail, and appreciating this, life.
Rachel O'Riordan's ability to connect, to make something real to 60-somethings, to 30-somethings, and to make a pin drop in a theatre of those whom have never experienced the theatre.
This to me is why the Sherman can and will make a difference.
It will introduce people to the theatre.
And it will introduce and reconnect people with Shakespeare.
And it will mean that people can fall in love, with people, and what matters, all over again.

Sherman Cymru’s Romeo & Juliet runs until the 18 October.
For full details and times for the show please visit www.shermancymru.co.uk or phone 029 2064 6900

Disclosure: We were invited to the Romeo & Juliet press evening. All opinions and views contained are our own.

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