Romeo & Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe – Review by Joseph Gallagher
As part of a series working with Queen Mary University of London’s Drama department we are showcasing reviews by current students on their London Performance Now module. Here’s another approach to Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe.
This review is by Joseph Gallagher
I walked into the globe theatre with a certain expectation of what performance I was going to be watching. I did not see that performance. The setting of the show was within modern day and the dress matched it. Vans, Nike tracksuits and neck tattoos among other features set the play very much in the 21st century, mixed in with modern day slang and drug abuse. Ola Ince overall, created a modern day version of Shakespeare’s most well known play, but it is not without its flaws.
Ince decided to focus on the mental health aspect within Romeo & Juliet, which I for one, had never really appreciated nor noticed if truth be told. The need for this message in todays society is extremely needed. With how much mental health is spoken about recently and especially with under 25’s, Ince made the correct decision to focus on this element of the play.
However, this did have some major fallbacks, Will Edgerton’s ‘Tybalt’ had very little time onstage so much so that when Romeo kills him, the weight of the moment did not strike a single nerve as I was left wondering why I should care for this person and therefore why should Juliet care enough to try and convince her parents to postpone her marriage to Paris.
Within the play too were multiple moments when the actors would break the fourth wall and directly address the audience with some quite eye opening statistics. The statements made had a lot of prevalence within the story and where a good addition to the action. However, the way they were delivered, in a very jarring pause of the performance and a preachy tone created an uncomfortable feature in the performance that didn’t work a single bit.
Alfred Enoch’s ‘Romeo’ and Rebekah Murrell’s ‘Juliet’ were fantastic within the performance. Both had a lovely frantic energy to them that could only be given to youth. An organised chaos with Romeo often on a BMX just lingering in the street and Juliet running around her bedroom throughout. The infamous balcony unfortunately lends itself to have Murrell on the actual balcony of the Globe but Enoch running through the audience (with a mask) and swinging on ladders placed in the pit added a new element to what can be a cliché scene. Sirine Saba as the nurse was a personal highlight. Even when not the main focus of a scene, she constantly stole the show with her exaggerated expressions and a comic relief with the second half of the show. Zoe West and Adam Gillen shined as the loveable rogues of Benvolio and Mercutio respectively. The cast as a whole was brilliant but they were my standouts. The run finished on October 17th as the Globe shall begin its run into the Christmas season with ‘The Fir Tree’ starting on December 20th.
Photo credit: Alfred Enoch as Romeo, Sirine Saba as Nurse and Zoe West as Benvolio in Romeo & Juliet, Globe Theatre, Shakespeare’s Globe, 2021. Photographer: Marc Brenner