What’s in a name indeed? Young Hearts is the name for the new Globe
season and young hearts is what we get. The pair of star-crossed lovers
is played by as youthful a duo as one is likely to see.
Dominic Dromgoole’s production doesn’t always come off (why, for
example, does Juliet go to bed in the middle of the Capulet living
room?) but there’s plenty here to stir the soul. It captures the
excitement of young love and the tragic waste of premature death, as
well as providing a sense of the desperate urgency with which the relationship unfolds.
In Adetomiwa Edun, the Globe has unearthed a fine Romeo. After a
somewhat uneasy start, he quickly finds his feet and surmounts the
tricky acoustics of the Globe. What he captures perfectly is the
capricious nature of youth – one certainly can envisage this Romeo
falling in love with Juliet as quickly as he fell out of love with
Rosaline. And there's real anger in his duel with Tybalt – this is not
a young man reluctantly drawn into a fight, this is someone out to
revenge a friend’s death, whatever it takes.
Ellie Kendrick’s Juliet certainly has youth on her side even if she's
demonstrably uncomfortable with the verse. But there’s a delightful
innocence about her and she's entirely believable as a young girl
finding the first fruits of love.
There’s a strangely melancholic Mercutio, courtesy of Philip Combus.
He’s not quite the wise-cracking wit we’re used to; rather, there’s
something fatalistic and world-weary about his behaviour. And in the
way he seeks to sexually humiliate the Nurse, we can see him as a man
not truly happy in his own skin.
It’s not just the principals who are youthful; Dromgoole has also
chosen a Nurse and Lady Capulet much closer to the age that Shakespeare
intimates they are. After all, these aren’t characters on their last
legs but women barely into middle age. Penny Layden’s Nurse in
particular has a feistiness about her suggesting that she’s fiercely
protective of her young charge. I also liked Rawiri Paratene’s
strongly-spoken Friar Lawrence, suitably robust – as befits the
originator of much of the action in the second half of the play.
A special mention for the music; a quartet of singers provides
commentary on the text with songs beautifully set by Nigel Hess, and
the musical accompaniment complements the staging excellently.
This is a strong start to the season. If we’re truly in for a long and
hot summer, on this evidence the Globe could well be the place to be.