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Year 11 visit The Globe Theatre to watch "Romeo & Juliet"

Romeo and Juliet review

Year 11 students were presented with the exciting opportunity to watch Romeo and Juliet performed at the Globe Theatre in London. The play, set in 2024, was a modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy about two star-crossed lovers; including ominously dressed BMX bikers and leads romancing in joggers and puffer jackets. And lots of cell phones.

The production subverted expectations of a Eurocentric Shakespearean tragedy by featuring a diverse cast: Romeo was portrayed by the talented Hayden Mampasi; Juliet by Felixe Forde; and most surprisingly, gender-bent Benvolio and Friar Lawrence, brilliantly portrayed by Saroja Lily-Ratnavel and Marieme Diouf, respectively. Other honourable mentions include the stellar performances by actors playing Lord Capulet who left some of us quaking with his tremendous portrayal of a temperamental Capulet; Mercutio, with his animated, nimble movement across the wooden stage; and the Nurse (whose character was interpreted quite literally as an NHS nurse!) Students and staff were literally immersed in the play as the cast interacted with students and staff, leaving us smiling, gasping, and even blushing, as they winked and joked with us.

Music and set design were incredibly executed. Students were greeted with graffiti of words associated with Romeo and Juliet, such as ‘civil,’ ‘villain,’ ‘love’ and ‘hate,’ giving us an indication of the play’s underlying tone and aesthetic. The musicians that worked behind the scenes controlled the ambiance with their crashing cymbals and drums calling for celebration or tense anticipation. The dances and sequences were perfectly co-ordinated, and the audience particularly enjoyed Juliet’s eclectic hallucination of her dreaded wedding day.

The structure of the Globe Theatre and its features that replicate the original establishment allowed students to experience the play as ‘groundlings’: we stood for the entire duration of the 90-minute play; which, albeit quite tedious sometimes, allowed us to gain authentic insight into the lives of a contemporary Elizabethan audience and allowed us to put ourselves in their shoes.

Overall, I would say that the experience was incredible; it was a great privilege to see immense talent at work, blending boundaries of culture and time. The production helped us understand the themes of the play better by basing a 16th century text in a more contemporary context.

But as Shakespeare so eloquently put it: “Parting is such sweet sorrow.”

Written by: A Mathew (Year 11 student)

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