2010 - Romeo and Juliet

Review of Romeo and Juliet
     "Beautifully realised, atmospheric and immersive"
by Louise Phillips for remotegoat on 10/02/10


On a freezing cold February evening there's no better idea than making your way to the wonderfully warm Holy Trinity Church for Guildford Shakespeare Company's first indoor foray.

Renowned for their innovative use of beautiful and unusual locations around the city, Holy Trinity is the perfect setting for this intramural debut, exploited beautifully by GSC in a production which is intimate, atmospheric and intense.

The sets are minimal and the existing features of the church effectively incorporated into the performance, with curtain-strung arches and the pulpit making a fantastic setting for that famous balcony scene. The most is made of the small stage and surrounding areas, and the wonderfully arranged fight scenes are even more dynamic when spilling over into the aisles. Meanwhile a ball in full swing is ably represented by a few characters cleverly choreographed; another example of the ingeniousness with which the GSC conspire to turn the would-be shortcomings of their small cast and limited space into a blessing. Dan Marsden's lighting design was simply stunning throughout, complimenting the space, creating a wonderful atmosphere and only in the last scenes revealing the gorgeous painted ceilings of Holy Trinity.

Charlotte Conquest's production is well-structured and paced, with energetically delivered dialogue. Shifting gears effortlessly between comedy, action, romance and tragedy, it is a mark of how consistently gripping the action on stage was that I didn't fidget more in my (seriously uncomfortable!) chair.

Generally the performances match the integrity of the piece. Ellie Kirk is delicately beautiful and wonderfully cast as the headstrong heroine, skilfully portraying the full range of emotions demanded of her in an utterly involving performance. Chirstopher Kinneston makes a handsome Romeo, very able during the action-packed fight scenes and exchanging banter with Mercutio and Benvolio. However, it seemed that some of his more emotional scenes lacked serious punch and a real sense of tragic feeling was undermined by much hair-tearing and grunting.

The supporting cast are exceptionally strong, with Tom Peters' Mercutio a particular highlight; his scenes with the excellent Matt Pinches as Benvolio are a real treat. David Davies meanwhile commands an authoritative and occasionally almost frightening presence as Capulet.

On the whole this is an absolute must-see rendition of one of Shakespeare's best loved plays and perfect for anyone struggling for romantic ideas for Valentine's Day.