R and J

Star cross'd lovers of fair Verona, Romeo (Matt Lockett) and Juliet (Livvi Parsons)

Romeo and Juliet

Swan Theatre, Worcester


This famous Shakespearean favourite is produced at the Swan Theatre in Worcester by a mixture of amateur and professional players- the Worcester Rep, the Young Rep and the People’s Rep. It is an ambitious project: Shakespeare’s sublime poetry requires excellent vocal skills as well as general acting ones.

The story presents us with the star-cross’d lovers of Verona whose teenage love affair meets dark and tragic forces – the social pressure of feuding families, the patriarchal society where marriages were arranged for their offspring, if not forced upon them, by their parents, the sheer bad luck or fate that conspires against them. Their innocent love affair and marriage is bedevilled by the mistimed events of their tragic story.

Owen Harper’s production sets the story in the sixties with its music and protests, Beatles songs and flower power. In large measure this works well, though occasionally the music played over the spoken verse and we lost some key lines in famous speeches as a result. The simple abstract set worked well. The lighting was well designed and effective.

The chorus and ensemble cast varied in their delivery and performances. Charles Morris (as Tybalt) was a strong presence. Daniel Bates (Benvolio) spoke well. Ben Farquharson was an energetic and lively Peter who added colour and life to his scenes. Olga Hlouskova (Mercutio) delivered her lines clearly and expressively though I was not entirely convinced by the role being played by a female performer. Some of the senior performers were a trifle wooden.

Rob Holman as Friar Lawrence was excellent and introduced some humour. He delivered the lines well. I wondered if he might show greater remorse in the final scene. His long explanation at the end was cut, but in his devastation he says, ‘….if aught in this miscarried by my fault, , let my old life Be sacrificed…’ Corrina McDermott was an excellent Nurse. Her varied tones and expressive gestures were persuasive. She added humour and lightness to many scenes.

Livvi Parsons plays Juliet. In the first half she seemed to lack the excessive passion of youth that is an important theme in the play. After the interval she got stronger in this regard. Her delivery of the ‘potion’ (‘Come vial’) speech was excellent. At times she spoke too quickly, albeit naturally; she needs to give full value to the poetry.

Matt Lockett was a good Romeo. He grew in intensity and conviction; he delivered the verse clearly and well most of the time.

There are some powerful and moving scenes in this production which cuts out a few bits of the original play here and there; this speeds up the production of a lengthy play pretty well. The director has a clear and coherent vision. The show runs till Sunday 7th October.

Tim Crow


Worcester Rep

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