Tag Archives: Romeo Juliet

Romeo & Juliet

romeo and julietIn less than a week I will be taking the stage in London for the first time at The Space on the Isle of Dogs. The Space is a quaint repurposed venue full of character and the first thing I noticed on my arrival was that Romeo and Juliet is currently in production, so of course I had to pop along.

I love Romeo and Juliet principally, I think, because though its plot plays hard and fast with the willing suspension of disbelief, its characters are drawn with impeccable honesty.

Tonight, I was treated to one of those brilliant experiences where the familiar becomes new again. The performers delivered deliciously light renditions of Shakespeare’s characters, while also delving richly into the great stock of pathos Shakespeare provided.

I was particularly taken with Lucy Bailey, who took us on the Nurse’s amusing and moving journey of joys and sorrows. Juliet was also given an unusually engaging lightness by Rebecca Burnett that provided the space for joining her on her highs and lows.

There was some novel (and very clever) casting in the form of turning Benvolio into a Benvolia, and Gregory also underwent a sex change. Both characters benefited from finding their feminine side, I thought, though it didn’t seem to serve much of a purpose other than utilising the eternal glut of female actors and relieving the difficulty of fielding a male cast.

And herein lies my one reservation about this production. Despite a couple of interesting choices such as this, and despite some commendable performances, there’s no spark of brilliance to make it truly noteworthy.

These qualities don’t quite compensate for a rather staid envisioning of a text with such broad possibilities. It just seemed far too constrained to its conventional setting, and despite the freshness of the performances, I just wanted something more to sink my teeth into.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela

Ram-LeelaOkay, I might have a reason to like Ram-Leela that gives me a bit of a bias, but I simply haven’t enjoyed a film this much in ages. Colourful, engaging, and full of life, this film captures the attention and the heart.

Bollywood has not been high on my list of priorities, but this film could well change that. Their energy and obsession with colour has always fascinated me, but the plots can be pretty ordinary. Since Ram-Leela borrows the bulk of its plot from England’s foremost dramatist, it can hardly be said to suffer from this illness. 

Based roughly on Romeo and Juliet, Ram-Leela begins with the familiar style of Bollywood. It is not long, however before it delves deeper into the characters and their backstory than is customary, and the challenge becomes to recognise Shakespeare’s characters in those in front of us.

This is not, however, a straightforward transliteration. In transplanting the story to India, the plot required some major reconstructive surgery. It takes some interesting turns that are not quite what I was expecting, and in the second act I was beginning to think the plot had diverted completely from Shakespeare’s when it finally resolved back into the familiar run.

This is where I really found myself fascinated. Some of my readers may be aware that some years ago I was involved in writing and directing a re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet in which the lovers live and rather than finding a happily ever after they find they don’t really like each other quite as much as they thought they did. Ram-Leela looked for a while like it might head down a similar path, but it didn’t, and I breathed a sigh of relief in a way.

I can’t think of a more interesting experience than seeing this film in the heady mix of cultures I am experiencing here in Timor-Leste. It just sits beautifully in this eclectic place and should not be missed.

Leave a comment

Posted by on Sunday, 1 December 2013 in Film


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

%d bloggers like this: