Pros: An enjoyable version of the play at a reasonable price, in comfortable surroundings.
Cons: Sometimes difficult to hear what was being said.
I feel sure that just about everyone likely to read this is aware of the Romeo and Juliet story, so I will not go into any great plot detail (Spoiler Alert – they both die at the end). This production is an enjoyable and solid performance of the play without any messing about with the script (why would you?) and without unnecessary gimmicks. If you want to see a traditional Romeo and Juliet at a reasonable price, where you are not miles away from the action, then this is for you.
Steiner House theatre is spacious and comfortable, about five minutes walk from Baker Street tube station. Details of how to get there are on their website, but at the time of writing, information about this play was not. Eventually, more through luck than judgement, I found a reference to the Camden Fringe and there it was – dates, ticket sales, etc. The paucity of information may be one of the reasons why there were more people on stage than in the audience.
The set was simple but cleverly done, using curtains and lighting to indicate different locations. Costumes, again, were simple but with a traditional look to them, using colour to differentiate the Capulets and Montagues. The nurse wore a mixture of the colours, reflecting her role as a bridge between the two. There was also an element of race with the casting of the families which brought the whole thing a bit closer to current events and also gave me a lightbulb moment; I have seen this play so many times, but only just understood that line at the party, ‘I can tell by his voice that this man is a Montague. . .’
Good use was made of the ample stage and surround, but the size did bring a problem of its own with regards to sound. The space was very echo-y and it was sometimes difficult to hear what was being said. This was very noticeable during fight scenes, when characters were walking about with heavy leather boots, and at the beginning of the play, when the background drumming was much too loud. However, apart from that loud bit at the start, the use of music was really good, with live musicians at the dance and eerie tolling at the death scenes. The humour was also done well, with Mercutio in particular looking like he was really enjoying himself. Overall, this was an enjoyable evening in a comfortable venue with friendly staff.
Director: Sarah Kane
Producer: Manish Srivastava
Booking link: www.camdenfringe.com
Booking until: Sunday 28 August