Romeo & Juliet

Malvern Theatres


Shakespeare’s star-cross’d lovers met their fatal destiny in an innovative and moving production in Malvern last night, thanks to the Flabbergast Theatre Company.

This company majors on physical theatre, and the choreography and movement are key to this interpretation while retaining the essential elements of text and scene. The cast function as an ensemble and achieve a strong corporate identity, while clearly taking individual roles to present the characters and their actions.

We received no programme or even cast list, which indicates how strongly they wish to be seen as a team rather than as individual actors, but we are not left in any doubt about who is playing which character during this inclusive performance.

The use of simple, live music and sound effects – a drum, a bell, humming etc – was particularly powerful and added significantly to the poignancy and intensity of the dramatic scenes. The lighting was similarly beautifully designed to create atmosphere and establish mood.

Often the movement reflected the emotional turmoil of the characters, and the chorus movements occasionally intensified the sense that there was a spirit world surrounding the protagonists and influencing outcomes. Just occasionally however the activity of the chorus detracted from the sublime poetry being spoken by the principal characters.

The delivery of the Bard’s poetry was usually very clear, though at times accents and speed of delivery meant we lost some lines. The Nurse gave a lively performance in this way, the actor who was a blend of both Lord and Lady Capulet was strong, and the boyish Juliet delivered lines with great vivacity and energy. The Romeo was less of a teenager but gave a strong natural performance, though his hair got in the way at times; the Friar was a strong presence and spoke well.

Visually this is an excellent production – the simplicity of the modern and abstract set with staging at various levels provides scope for the physical variety of movement. The simple but effective use of white sheets and well-designed lighting highlight and complement the emotional intensity of the production.

Although some editing of the text has taken place, and some purists might take exception to aspects of this production, this is a good one for young students of Shakespeare to experience. The energy and creativity will help them to develop a love of our most brilliant playwright.

Tim Crow


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