The Garden was transformed into war-torn Verona last Friday, as our Shakespearean actors returned to perform the classic tragedy of Romeo and Juliet for members.
As usual, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust actors delivered this classic play with their own unique twist. Last year, you may remember that Much Ado About Nothing was set in the 1980s, whereas this year’s performance was set in the present day. Bearing in mind the original ages Romeo and Juliet would have been, the actors incorporated school uniforms into their costumes, giving the whole performance a very realistic modern gang-feud feeling.
Alongside the well-known storyline of Romeo and Juliet was the slightly lesser known story of Lady Capulet, and her reasons for marrying her daughter off to the wealthy Prince. The audience discovered how her dreams as a young girl were dashed, and how she clings to the youthful feeling the Prince’s affection gives her. Her temper towards her daughter becomes better understood as members realised they were spawned from jealousy and a desire for her daughter to not end up like herself.
It is a testament to the actors that for the entirety of the first half of the play, our members forgot that Romeo and Juliet is more than just another Shakespearean comedic love story. The enthusiasm, energy, and laughter bought to the stage by Peter's hilarious Mercutio and Richard’s boyish Benvolio, could make us think we were watching the happier tales of Much Ado About Nothing, or As You Like It. It made the sudden deaths of Mercutio and Tybalt extremely tragic and caught us all off guard.
The second half of the play mirrored the darkening sky, and the lighting provided the perfect sorrowful and sombre atmosphere as the two lovers desperately plotted to be with one another as barrier after barrier arose. When the final scene took place, audience members sniffled into tissues and hastily wiped tears from their eyes.
We would like to thank the actors once again for coming and putting on such a mesmerising night of theatre in our very own garden. Look out for the next production in the event calendar. Take a look at some of the photos from the performance below.