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Romeo and Juliet (Hull)

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars
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One of the attractions of live theatre is the diversity it brings. No-one can expect to enjoy everything that is performed on stage, some you either love or you hate, last night, sadly, I witnessed the latter.

Billed as "a must for Shakespeare aficionados, newcomers and everyone in between", I myself was a newcomer to the production so was looking forward to this "brand new take on a classic tragedy".

I found it painful from start to finish, and I must admit that for the first time in my life I did not stay until the end. Simple set, sparse audience, and a confusing start, plus the fact that I could not clearly hear a word that was spoken. The cast could have been speaking in a foreign language for all I could understand and my interest was waning from the very first scene.

Shakespeare isn’t easy on the untrained ear and credit must go to the young actors for learning their lines but many were lost in the acoustics and drowned by the background music.

The set improved more than the play, with a backstage initially resembling a huge television screen which adapted and added to each scene seamlessly. A large digital clock was also flashed up to show how quickly the whirlwind romance between Romeo (Daniel Boyd) and Juliet (Catrin Stewart) developed. It did the opposite for me, simply portraying how slowly time can drag.

Used to inflict further pain were the blinding flashlights that shone into the faces of the audience to signal another Sliding Doors moment signifying how different things could have been for the fated lovers. It left me feeling even more confused.

I can appreciate that a tremendous amount of effort and talent is involved in this modern look at one of the "classics" but for me it didn’t work, others will beg to differ, and it is that diversity and difference of opinion that makes live theatre so enthralling for some and so frustrating for others.


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