Love’s young dream never felt more thrilling or poignant as in Rupert Goold’s energetic and engaging new production of Romeo and Juliet.
The exhilarating opening scene plunges the audience straight into a beautifully choreographed sword-fight between the Capulet’s and Montague’s. Flashes of fire erupt angrily among the chaos, adding to the menacing atmosphere as the two warring families battle hammer and tong.
The RSC are pulling out all the stops for audiences by featuring man of the moment Goold from their pool of talented directors this season, fresh from his accolade as Best Director of award-winning musical Enron last year. His vision for this play is just as innovative, giving Shakespeare’s age-old love story an intense immediacy for today’s facebook generation.
Mariah Gale’s gum-chewing, Converse-wearing Juliet is the perfect match for Sam Troughton’s duffel coated Romeo, both expressing their emotions with utmost conviction and perfectly capturing the fragility and finality of young love. Set apart from the rest of the cast through their modern day garb, their clothes emphasise lovers lost in their own world, detached from the rest of society. Jonjo O’Neill’s flamboyant Mercutio appears hell bent on stealing every scene he is in, with his lusty depiction of Romeo’s ominous friend, while the spirited Noma Dumezweni as Juliet’s Nurse ensures a constant stream of laughter throughout.
The influence of Baz Lurhman’s kaleidoscopic screen adaptation of 1998 is evident and no bad thing for a director who made Shakespeare cool again for youths. Unlike the film however, the energy wanes as sugar-levels fall in the second half, with the play losing momentum as the tragedy unfolds. But there is no denying the sparkle of Goold’s impact as director, and some passionate performances from the ensemble cast, making this a worthy must-see.
In repertory at the RSC’s Courtyard Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon until 27 August, 2010. Box office: 0844 800 1110