Review: Romeo & Juliet

Unlike the morbid severity of Shakespeare's other famous tragedies, Hamlet or Macbeth, Romeo & Juliet has a much more youthful, vibrant and energetic spirit and that is to the fore in Birmingham Rep's staging of the well-loved tale of forbidden love and looming doom.

With comic actress Su Pollard as the nurse and time-served English thesp Gerald Harper as Friar Laurence, the show is still contemporary in design and direction. With simple wooden panelled staging, the players make good use of the cleverly angled floor and compactly minimalist environment; this is a production where none of Shakespeare's poetry is lost in the delivery.

Jamie Doyle is elegantly troubled as the innocent, fresh-faced Romeo, while his Juliet, Anjali Jay, sometimes appears a caricature of the love-struck girl. The most fleshed-out character and the hero of the comic interludes is Mercutio; as played by Gus Gallagher he is the master of witty exchanges and physical horseplay. Gallagher excels, playing confidently with the text and choreography to the delight of the giggling school girls, and his death leaves a void onstage.

There are many other enticements for the female theatre-goer. The male costumes, ladies, are a sight to behold and the explicitly base antics of the three horny lads in Act One positively blush-making. Rest assured, girls, you will not be turned off by their exclamations of love.

Review by Louisa McEwan
Glasgow Herald
March 2006