Romeo and Juliet, Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
Production fails to square the circle
Rating: *** By Colin Davison @IamColinDavison
It’s a striking idea for this touring production by Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory by Russian director Polina Kalinina, who has set the piece in the liberated, rebellious 1960s.
Unfortunately, what worked well in the close-up, in-your-face setting of the company’s Bristol warehouse home, is less effective on the Everyman’s traditional proscenium stage.
The consequent distancing, occasionally intrusive sound effects and lack of props do the actors few favours. I am sure for example that this Juliet, the promising Daisy Whalley, noticeably young in a company so young that even her nurse wears white boots, will achieve more impact in those theatres-in-the-round where her lines become more distinct.
Paapa Essiedu is an immensely watchable Romeo, strolling on with a natural knock-‘em-dead charm. The Year 9 girls in front of me particularly enjoyed the part where he stripped off to his underpants.
Oliver Hoare so nearly stole the show as a hormone-charged Mercutio, buzzing like bees in a bottle, turning even that difficult Queen Mab speech into a roustabout routine among his mates.
Romeo and Juliet continues at the Everyman until Saturday, May 16. Tickets online and on 01242 572573.