Romeo and Juliet – Mill Theatre – Review by Letizia Delmastro
Directed by Geoff O’Keeffe
The well-known classic Romeo and Juliet, presented in a newly edited version directed by Geoff O’Keeffe is a somewhat successful attempt to modernize one of Shakespeare’s best-known plays.
The action is opened by a movement piece in which “Human” by Rag’N’Bone man overlaps with the opening sonnet, resulting in a suggestive, but also confusing, blend. The coupling of movement and music returns multiple times with the fighting sequences, this time accompanied by jarring techno music, and once again leaving the audience slightly wincing and shell-shocked.
The skillfully edited text is performed well by the recent Gaiety School graduate Jack Mullarkey, presenting a Romeo who is both sweet and dangerous, transforming him from the stylized romantic figure we all know him to be to a young guy anyone could meet on the streets of Dublin. Feeding into Mullarkey’s charm is the young Gillian Buckle who, although sometimes seeming lost in the language, comes through well during the play’s most dramatic scenes and draws the audience into a young girl’s despairs and fears.
The couple’s sweet chemistry is well balanced by the Capulet’s business-like approach to love and marriage: Lord Capulet (Michael-James Ford) transitions well from deep rage at her daughter’s refusal to obey his orders to quiet despair at the discovery of her death. At the same time the Nurse, played by Evelyn Shaw, presents a bawdy and lovable character who ends up being an accomplice in the young couple’s schemings, sadly, only out of love for her little Juliet.
The language is handled to a good standard by the main characters, but feels sometimes rushed and flattened by the minor characters, drowned out by frantic movement or sloppy diction.
Commendable are the technical sides of the play. Tom Ronayne’s stage design, a simple set of a few tiled benches and a structure of neon panels, peeling back to be used for the famous balcony scene, allow for the setting to be transformed with just a few clever lighting changes, designed by Kris Mooney: the audience is suddenly transported from one location to another, from parties to orchards, in the blink of an eye, suddenly involving them deeper into the story.
A well directed play, Romeo and Juliet by Mill Productions is an enjoyable take on the masterpiece and a successful attempt on its modernization; it still presents a few hiccups, but nothing that will hinder the audience from falling in love with this story once more.