BBC Culture in Quarantine: Romeo and Juliet at the RSC Online
It’s a story everyone knows: two star-crossed lovers defying societal expectations in order to fight for that one thing keeping both of them alive – each other. Love is universal, and at a time when the world yearns for human connection, now more than ever, romance is hugely on the cards, stepping up its game on global viewing platforms too.
Erica Whyman’s production of Romeo and Juliet is no different. As part of BBC’s Culture in Quarantine series, Shakespeare’s tale has been reworked by the RSC’s Deputy Artistic Director in order to give it a contemporary feel. The casual, loose-fitting wardrobe worn by the actors bridges the gap between antiquity and modernity, as does the house music which kicks in when the characters begin parading the streets, a cautionary that the brainchild of Britain’s most famous playwright is well on its way to transcending the passage of time.
An interesting corner is turned when Whyman places a female actor in a male role. Charlotte Josephine’s portrayal of Romeo’s friend Mercutio puts the notion of gender politics back into play, challenging the status quo. While Bally Gill’s Romeo is timid and gentle, Josephine’s Mercutio is up-front and fearless, sprinkling an aura of feminist ideals onto the show.
Soundly cast, with sweetness and compatibility driving the relationship between Romeo and his lover Juliet (Karen Fishwick), the production has a lot to offer – so much so that it’s hardly relevant there is a near-empty stage, for the energy lies within the performances of its leads.
Photo: Topher McGrillis