Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare’s Globe online
For theatre addicts itching to see a live performance during lockdown, Shakespeare’s Globe is offering a rota of some of their most popular live shows. Now streaming on the theatre company’s YouTube channel is their 2009 run of Romeo and Juliet.
Clocking in at nearly three hours, the play begins with a high-energy cast featuring a few now-familiar faces, such as Game of Throne’s Ellie Kendrick (Juliet) and Poldark’s Jack Farthing (Benvolio). Kendrick plays an excellently shy and gentle Juliet, while Adetomiwa Edun perfects a boyish yet passionate Romeo. Another notable performance that often steals the spotlight is that of Philip Cumbus’s cheeky Mercutio with his many inappropriate witticisms.
The star-crossed lovers’ iconic balcony sits at the centre of a rustic, open-concept backdrop, much like how one would expect the original Shakespearean stages to have looked some 400 years ago. At first, the presence of the audience in the brightly sun-lit circular theatre is a bit distracting and takes away from the show’s authenticity, but as the sun sets throughout the performance, the crowd begins to fade into the background.
The script is spoken in its original Elizabethan English, and the cast executes it fairly well as they use facial cues and gestures to help the audience understand the more difficult lines. They also nail Shakespeare’s comedic (and often perverted) anecdotes effortlessly.
Certain elements, however, distract from the desired intensity of the original text. Fight scenes, such as that between Mercutio and Tybalt, consist of a few awkward moments and silent scuffles. This is slightly redeemed shortly after during Romeo and Tybalt’s more believable tussle. As the show heads towards the second half, intense monologues make for more dramatic performances and Kendrick begins to shine as a disheartened, confused Juliet.
Three hours fly by during such an enjoyable performance perfect for an afternoon showing at home.