Shakespeare’s ‘star cross’d lovers are superstars and belong to the hallowed ‘Set Text’ which has schools rushing for Health and Safety forms as well. The RSC’s season at Newcastle has officially opened with a Spanish Inquisition/Teenage Dirtbag/Pyro-crazy/chain-smoking/anything goes version of his famous work.
The spectacle, what with flames bellowing across the stage, is a pure thrill as are performances from actors including Jonjo O’Neill, whose Mercutio jerks from seriously obscene comedy to flippant violence faster than you can say bi-polar and Noma Dumezweni whose golden-gravelled voice is a treat all of its own. North East Actor Peter Peverley is also a part of this three year RSC ensemble and we get to see more of him than Stratford audiences. He will be performing the part of Friar Laurence, his understudy role, all this week.
The young ‘uns are gorgeously petulant, stroppy and idealistic. Our long love affair with this play means you keep hearing the Bard’s greatest hits, but this lot strive to keep Queen Mab, the Balcony and the rest fresh and relevant, for both the seen-it-all cynics and the first- timer teens. Ultimately, the mish mash of leather doublet with converse boot and Aristocratic Mancunian and her Scottish kinsman was a little too sophisticated for me. Well, I am from the North, after all. But there is much to swoon over with this production.