Everything in life comes down to timing, and at a time when a lot of people are questioning who they are, what they believe and where they belong, now IS the time for & Juliet. A story about the “Forgotten”, the “Underdog”, the “Other”, and mostly about being true to yourself – this show is one that will resonate with many right now. The concept is simple; what if Juliet hadn’t died at the end of Romeo and Juliet? What would she do? Who would she become?
With a soundtrack from Max Martin’s back catalogue, every song feels perfectly placed to tell its own part of the story, often in ways you’d never consider. The cast are a powerhouse of voices, all given their moment to shine, and shine they do. Be it in May’s (Arun Blair-Mangat) performance of ‘I’m Not A Girl, Not Yet A Woman’ that brings tears to the eye as her character battles with the question of who they are, as all of us have done at some point in our lives. Elsewhere the hilarious rendition of ’Everybody’ has the audience crying with laughter while cheering on Oliver Tompsett, David Badella, Tim Mahendran, Jordan Luke Gage and Arun Blair-Mangat.
The costume designs from Paloma Young and set design of Soutra Gilmour complement each other well, beautifully mixing the modern world with well-designed hints of the Shakespearean world that often take more than one glance to see – I particularly enjoyed the carriage’s number plate – helping to bring the audience into a world of life and colour that match perfectly the performance they are watching.
During the first act the audience were mainly subdued, but after the interval, and no doubt with a few drinks in them, they became much more responsive. As the show nears its end the Nurse (Melanie La Barrie) tells Juliet (the outstanding Miriam-Teak Lee) ‘you are fucking perfect’ and the audiences whoops of agreement says it all. Their response reminds me of watching RENT on Broadway, and it’s easy to see & Juliet talking to the modern audience in a very similar way – whoever you are, whatever your story, it doesn’t matter, you are welcome – that’s something we all need.
It’s not often I walk out of a theatre being unable to find fault with anything in a production, something always niggles with me, but tonight I walked out in awe of everyone that has helped to create this show. The standing ovation it received was well deserved.
Music By: Max Martin
Book By: David West Read
Directed By: Luke Sheppard
Produced By: Max Martin, Tim Headington and Theresa Steele
Box Office: 020 7379 5399
Booking Link: https://tickets1.shaftesburytheatre.com/ticket-select
Booking until: Currently booking until 30 May 2020