If you’re a seasoned Shakespeare fan then a modern adaptation of his iconic work might ring warning bells, especially when you bring Ed Sheeran, shots, and smoking into the mix.
However Watermill Theatre’s bold retelling of, what could arguably be called the greatest love story of all time, was nothing short of brilliant, with the multi-talented cast breathing new light, and some laughs, into the ultimate romantic tragedy, which took to the stage at Cheltenham’s Everyman Theatre.
Walking into an auditorium of pre-performance live music, Watermill Theatre’s flawless actor-musicians exuded infectious energy from the get-go. Taking to the vintage mic to sing everything from Hozier and Sean Paul, to Marilyn Manson, the music set the tone for a thoroughly entertaining show – and Shakespeare like you’ve never seen it before.
The music set the tone for a thoroughly entertaining show – and Shakespeare like you've never seen it before.
The show blurred the boundaries between classic Shakespeare and contemporary theatre in a way that honoured the epochal play and also proved how accessible The Bard’s stories can be, delivering the original text along with genius touches that were unique and unexpected.
Personal highlights included Mercutio donning a wetsuit and flippers; drunken exploits with stolen liquor; and bawdy mannerisms which brought plenty of humour to the text and got loud laughs from the teenagers in the audience.
Proving that Shakespeare’s words are open to interpretation, there were plenty of moments portrayed in a comic manner that I personally haven’t seen before, such as Romeo’s melodrama during the famous balcony scene, and his difficulties climbing the trellis to Juliet.
Perhaps my favourite was actress Lauryn Redding who portrayed the drinking, vulgar and rambling Nurse perfectly, with her mannerisms and northern accent moving the Shakespearean character into the modern age.
If ever there was a theatre company that could make Shakespeare 'cool' it's Watermill Theatre.
The 10-strong team performed seamlessly, whether that be the stunning songs, choreographed fight scenes, or gripping action. And as is always a difficult feat with Shakespeare’s language, the company made Romeo and Juliet easily accessible.
This story of star-crossed lovers brought two hours’ traffic to Everyman Theatre’s stage complete with innovative twists, irreverent comedy and a show which managed to be both moving and mirthful.
If ever there was a theatre company that could make Shakespeare ‘cool’ it’s Watermill Theatre. Whether you love the story, the playwright, or the theatre, don’t miss this sensational, shot drinking, singing show whilst it’s in Cheltenham.
By Kathryn Godfrey
Watermill Theatre will be performing both Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night at Everyman Theatre until Saturday 8 July 2017.
Thursday 06 July 2017
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