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  • Writer's pictureNathan Rees

REVIEW: Romeo and Juliet National Theatre 2021 - Star-Crossed Lovers Should Never Had Crossed Paths

What a time to be alive. Free theatre from the comfort of my own home? Yes please. Shakespeare at my fingertips? I’ll have that. Star-crossed lovers in their late 20’s. No. Thank. You. Who thought of that? If we’re going by this production’s logic, puberty hit them after they were 23. The point of Romeo and Juliet is that they are so in love, for the first time might I add, that they cannot help but get married immediately, commit murder and kill themselves because life without each other is too dreadful. If that’s a spoiler, catch up, it’s been 400 years. One of the most shocking parts of Romeo and Juliet is that two very young people feel so mature that they bonk. When they’re reaching the point where Romeo is thinking about brewing his own beer as some part of a mid-life crisis and Juliet is considering a career as a substitute art teacher, frankly, it doesn’t seem as bad. It’s just a married couple having a sad shag. We’ve all had one of those.

To add to this, their speech work wasn’t great either. What I love about Shakespeare is the ability to languish every vowel and spit every consonant. Love lulling in the syllables. Here, it’s spoken like they want to get it over with at a decibel setting low enough to make me think I was deaf. What is it with directors wanting gritty and realistic Shakespeare? They’re two warring families in the middle of a medieval town at the epicentre of the renaissance Godwin. That’s hardly going to breed the next Tom Hardy. They’d sooner use a paintbrush than a switchblade. It’s not supposed to be realistic, so neither should the acting.

Let us branch off from the old dears to the rest of the cast. They were alright I guess. Tasmin Grieg was strong and commanding, but you’ve come to expect that. Everyone else did their job of carrying the story, but nothing special. Just a bit underwhelmed really. If this is what theatre is going to look like when it all opens back up then we’ll all be out of a job

The setting was weird. I understand that making use of a theatre space is a good idea, but it was just a bit jarring. Brecht never looks good on screen and when you could occasionally see other actors in the background who clearly weren’t in the scene, It just took you out of it. So did setting some of the scenes backstage of the theatre. The production never quite seemed to make the leap from stage to screen. Just strange decisions all around really.

The fights were well shot, choreographed and performed so points all around there. Everyone came in their own clothes, or at least it looked like they did. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or not. They all fit into them. That’s a triumph. With the amount of weight I’ve put on in lockdown, I’m not sure if I'd fit into a bin bag.

So overall, the worst element was the leads and the rest was just alright. Bit of a misjudged mess if you ask me. But if you ask The Guardian it was better than the Godfather so who am I to judge? I'd give it 2/5.

If you like these reviews, then let me know and I can give my thoughts on some more of the latest silver screen action.

Bye for now!

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