Romeo and Juliet


Shakespeare Romeo and Juliet play. Directed 2009 by Dominic Dromgoole at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London. Stars Adetomiwa Edun (Romeo), Ellie Kendrick (Juliet), Ukweli Roach (Tybalt), Philip Cumbus (Mercutio), Tom Stuart (Paris), Penny Layden (Nurse), Miranda Foster (Lady Capulet), Rawiri Paratene (Friar Lawrence), Andrew Vincent (Prince Escalus), Michael O'Hagan (Montague), Holly Atkins (Lady Montague), Jack Farthing (Benvolio/Quartet), Graham Vick (Abraham/Apothecary/Chorus/Quartet), Fergal McElherron (Balthazar/Peter/Gregory/Chorus/Quartet), Ian Redford (Capulet), James Lailey (Sampson/Friar and John/Constable/Chorus/Quartet). Citizens played by Lucy Conway, Jason Carter, Rhoda Ofori-Attah and Stevie Raine.  Musicians are William Lyons, Arngeir Hauksson, Amy Kelly, Sharon Lindo, and Nicholas Perry. Designed by Simon Daw; music composed by Nigel Hess; choreographed by Siân Williams; fight director was Malcorm Ranson; musical director was William Liyons. Directed for TV by Kriss Russman; produced by Hans Petri. Released 2010, disc has 5.1 dts Master Audio sound. Grade: B+

Dominic Dromgoole's production of Romeo and Juliet is memorable for its vibrancy. The compact and well-lit setting of the Globe theater, with spectators standing at the foot of the stage (and even with their elbows resting on the stage) gives a sense of intimacy that viewers can experience, sitting comfortably in their home theaters, half a world away. Occasional use of light music adds depth to the spectacle. Musical interludes provide pageantry. The costumes are colorful, well designed, and never distracting. The set design is uncomplicated (one stage, one set) with minimal props; this allows the play to flow seamlessly from scene to scene.

But the aspect of the play that proves the most vital also happens to be the most important aspect of any good production: the acting. Here Dromgoole directs his young actors to play their parts with equal measures  of vocal and physical relish; the bawdy scenes are bawdy, the dramatic scenes are dramatic. Adetomiwa Edun, as Romeo, exudes boyish charm as he leaps across the stage in love with the world. He starts the play wide-eyed and worry free (even if he does lament how Rosaline won't return his love), expresses vividly his joy and excitement after meeting Juliet, and throws himself into despair as tragedy builds on tragedy. Ellie Kendrick, as Juliet, convincingly plays the curious mix of teenage boldness and apprehension.

Of course the strength of any production of Shakespeare lies foremost in the words, and here the actors are just as strong. They speak clearly and emote believably.  From a technical standpoint, the disc is well done. The picture is clear and bright and the sound is top notch. If there is one complaint to be had, it is that only English subtitles exist. Unlike opera, which can be admired by speakers of any language for the high level of singing and music, plays, especially Shakespeare, are built on understanding the words. As such only native speakers or those who have studied English extensively should consider purchasing this disc. We originally gave this Romeo and Juliet an A. But Wonk Gordon Smith's L'OperaDou jury graded it B.  So we revised the grade to B+.

Alas, all the YouTube videos for this have poor SD resolution.