A Tender Thing asks the question what if Romeo and Juliet had lived full lives, and what would happen when they eventually had to be parted through death. This play was written by English playwright Ben Power in 2009, with productions by the RSC among others. Power uses Shakespeare’s own words from Romeo and Juliet, just altered in context and order to give them new meaning. Words are often spoken by different characters to the original, with the altered situation of an old married couple, it produces this new drama.
The couple survived their star-crossed youth and have spent a lifetime together, but are now about to be parted as Juliet becomes ill and her health falls into steady decline. The play brings up issues such as euthanasia, loss and what it means to be really in love. This is not a couple of teenagers that have met a handful of times, but instead two people that have lived many years together, but their love has not changed, and their words of passion are still the same. It seems all the more powerful to have these declarations of desire from a couple that have spent so much of their lives together.
This is a piece that many actors would enjoy. As the original Romeo and Juliet were meant to be in their early teens, these are parts that many actors have never got to play. The two main actors in this production are an interesting combination. Olwen Fouéré is a controlled and measured actor, whose every movement is studied. Owen Roe has a looser form of acting, more free and relaxed. Their combination on stage works well, mostly as they are both so skilled.
The set is also impressive, with Monica Frawley creating a bedroom and toilet of their house, complete with a bed that disappears into a wall and a magic wardrobe! The set changes to allow for a number of dance sequences, that form dreams and flights of fancy.
The play itself has many beautiful scenes but as you would expect from a play that deals with one characters decline towards death, this is a harrowing story and strongly emotive. This is no easy night at the theatre and a certain scene towards the end left many of those in the audience reaching for their tissues! It’s a sad story but powerfully told and is worth seeing for the fine performances of the two main actors.
Cast – Olwen Fouéré and Owen Roe
Director – Selina Cartmell.
Written by Ben Power (Adapted from Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare)
Monica Frawley (Set Design)
Sinead Wallace (Lighting Design)
Gaby Rooney (Costumes)
Marc Teitler (Composer)
Liz Roche (Movement)
Produced by Marie Rooney (Highlight Productions).
Performances are Monday through Saturday at 8pm with Saturday matinees at 2.30pm. Tickets from €18.
Here is Ben Power talking about a production from 2012.