The comedy, romance and tragedy revolve around the intensity of being young. The rebellion, impetuous decisions, impatience, high drama are most believable in the context of adolescence. The ribaldry between Romeo, Mercutio and Benvolio is the teenage banter of boys today - albeit with a Queen Mab metaphor and Iambic Pentameter.
So the National Youth Theatre, which nurtures the next generation of actors under the age of 25, naturally, has the edge when it comes to putting on Romeo and Juliet. And the talented troupe of performers certainly don't disappoint.
Sure the visuals and production value don't match the mega-budget West End of Romeo and Juliet directed by Kenneth Branagh earlier this year, but the overall experience is just as powerful. Though both productions stay faithful to Shakespeare's text and relocate the story to the 1950s, similarities end there.
Instead of Branagh's smooth Dolce Vita piazzas, we have a murky post-war London, with underlying sense of violence and pulsing physical theatre. James Mace is a thoughtful Romeo, all wide-eyed infatuation and quiet torment. Shalisha James-Davis is a vivid Juliet, making the series of miserable events from her cousin's murder to her own death moving without any melodrama.
Offsetting the dark tone of the production, there is luminous comedy acting from Arianna Beadie as a huffy good-natured nurse and Kwami Odoom (Mercutio) and Shiv Jalota (Benvolio) and the jesting side-kicks.
The relative simplicity of the production makes this the ideal introduction for older children and teens, as Shakespeare's verse is demystified in the clarity of performance. But even if you know the play intimately from prologue to final couplet, it's well worth enjoying it performed by this impressive cast of young people.
|What||National Youth Theatre's Romeo and Juliet review|
West Street, London, WC2H 9ND | MAP
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
28 Sep 16 – 23 Nov 16, 7:30 PM – 10:00 PM
|Website||Click here for more information|