Mod take on Romeo and Juliet is just ace
Romeo and Juliet, Belgrade Theatre, until June 22.
Whine, whine, whine, moan, moan, moan, drama, drama, drama. Everyone knows it's no fun being a teenager. Especially when you are embroiled in the age old story: girl meets boy, falls in love, boy stabs girl's cousin, girl pretends to be dead, boy kills himself.
No prizes for guessing this is the latest adaptation of Romeo and Juliet at the Belgrade Theatre this week.
Oddsocks theatre company gives the Shakespeare classic an innovative new mods and rockers twist, with Juliet (Pippa Lewis) as a feisty big-haired rock chick, opposite tortured mod Romeo, played by Matthew Burns with lashings of bespectacled David Tennant-esque geek chic.
The Quadrophenia-tastic set, in seedy metal clubs and greasy cafes on Brighton beach, gives the production a fresh new feel, while the inclusion of 60s classic hits interspersed with original Shakespearean dialogue keeps the pace crisp and sparky and the archaic language understandable.
Particularly worthy of note was Andy Barrow, who injected a heavy dose of Wolverhampton-accented Noddy Holder into the character of Juliet's rocker father Lord Capulet. With a strong emphasis on audience participation (shout Mod when anyone says Montague and make devil's horns at the Capulets) the show veered on the pantomime throughout, but given that Shakespeare originally wrote interactive theatre steeped in pop culture for the masses, this in itself seems faithful to the play's roots.
My 11-year-old son, who is yet to study Romeo and Juliet, remained enthralled throughout the two-hour production, which is testament to its accessibility for audiences of any age.
I am a bit of a Shakespeare fan and I've seen many first class productions up the road at the RSC. But I have to say that this version of Romeo and Juliet, with its regional colloquialisms, audience immersion and on-the-spot ad libs, felt closer to the play that Shakespeare intended than anything I've ever seen.