The RSC has brought the classic love story of Romeo and Juliet into a modern age with a production that tackles identity, gender and consuming love.
Erica Whyman has taken the story of these two star-crossed lovers and elevated it into a contemporary world, stripped it back and created a really raw and honest piece of theatre. Delivering the story with clarity, crafting a captivating romance between the young couple. With a fresh and relevant feel, the diverse cast reflects today’s society. Acknowledging that it’s been over 400 years since Shakespeare wrote Romeo and Juliet, Whyman has taken a distinct focus on the women in the play, how they’re portrayed and their relationships with one another.
Many of the themes in Romeo and Juliet still parallel with the world we live in. With the rising knife crime an alarming topic in the news, the contemporary relationship between youth and violence is made clear in highlighted in Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy.
Karen Fishwick takes the lead as Juliet and provides a warm, youthful and compelling performance. Capturing the curiosity and vulnerability of Juliet, she embodies the 14-year-old girl with conviction, creating a convincing performance that allows you to truly invest in the character. Opposite her, Bally Gill is sharp and charming as young Romeo. Encapsulating all the qualities of the young chap, both his charismatic swagger and soft heart, Gill’s chemistry with Fishwick is enthralling.
Juliet’s relationship with her Nurse (Ishia Bennison) is incredibly touching to watch. Bennison provides a remarkable performance with impeccable comedy timing as she lights up the stage with her wit and flair. Aside from her tremendous comedy, her loyalty and patience with Juliet is beautiful to witness as she cares so deeply for her.
Mercutio is a complex character, s(he) instantly switches between being both ballsy and feisty to poetic and tender. Charlotte Josephine brings incredible expression to the role and captures the free-spirited nature through her relish to fight and risk her life due to the overwhelming fire within her.
Whyman has created such intricate relationships between the characters to create a performance rich with layers. Setting out to transpose it to a world as close to ours as possible, it is a powerful, emotive and delicate production that feels immensely genuine.
Romeo and Juliet at the RSC is a beautifully refreshing revival of one of Shakespeare’s most loved plays, and the clarity of the narrative reminds us why his writing resonates still so clearly today, as it feels like it was only written yesterday.
Romeo and Juliet is on at the RSC in Stratford-Upon-Avon until the 21st of September, tickets and information can be found online here.