Romeo and Juliet – Salisbury Studio Theatre

DIRECTOR Peter Kelly had an idea for his production of the world’s most famous love story at Studio Theatre in Salisbury this week, and he showed his wardrobe mistress Pam Hanan a picture of the Japanese animation house Manga’s idea of Romeo and Juliet.

“I don’t want it to be LIKE this, but it’s a general idea,” he said. That was the reason that the advance publicity images are all of rehearsals without costume.

This show is a vibrant, timeless, poignant, energetic and powerful reading of a very familiar story, with the largely young cast not only managing the language with the essential poetry, but also bringing out the universal meanings of the Shakespearean text.

The Juliet, Hebe Fletcher, is 16 – only two years older than the “real” Juliet. Steve Graney (Romeo) has just finished at university. Together they weave a convincing spell of young love and passion, with all its flights of fancy and doom laden despair.

James Bradwell brings a rare emotional power to the role of Benvolio, often seen very much as an also-ran.

Tamsin Jacson’s Nurse is perfectly judged, full of bawdy, loving trickery and much-repeated reminiscences. And Stew Taylor’s Father Lawrence illuminated the text.

The gang violence is well portrayed, played as is the whole show against a black background and depending on lighting and the extraordinary costumes for atmosphere and identification.

The director has taken a few liberties with the text, removing a couple of characters and beefing up the involvement of others, but The production, on until Saturday, id a triumph for all involved, and well worth seeing. But take a fan. There is no air conditioning in the Studio Theatre. GP-W

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