Romeo and Juliet at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Shakespeare’s timeless story of forbidden love is reimagined for a long-awaited run at the scenic open air theatre in London’s Regent’s Park. Seasoned director, Kimberley Sykes is the driving force behind this contemporary production of Romeo and Juliet and with her credentials, including multiple RSC productions and a nomination for UK best director award, the well-loved play has clearly been put in the very best hands.
As twilight falls and a luminescent glow fills the amphitheatre, the audience is temporarily transported to the city of Verona via urban, three-tiered scaffolding from set designer Naomi Dawson. Here, two long-standing rival families are introduced – the Montagues and the Capulets. The younger indie-clad members of the Montagues set their sights on gate-crashing a party at the Capulet house, where the adolescent lovers meet, fall instantly in love and set off a series of life-changing catastrophes.
Sykes contradicts the traditional representation of the pair as star-crossed lovers and presents them as two petulant and impulsive teenagers that could do with some sensible adult intervention. Juliet (Isabel Adomakoh Young) brilliantly portrays an infatuated, anxious young thing, whilst lovelorn Romeo (Joel MacCormack) delivers a sulky, moody teen.
Romeo’s band of loyal merrymakers are soon dismantled by the ongoing family feuds, resulting in the unfortunate death of charming Mercutio (Cavan Clarke) and the revenge killing of Juliet’s fiery cousin Tybalt (Michelle Fox).
There’s a thunderous crashing as each character falls to their death, before rising from the dead, moving to the front seats of the theatre and bringing about an unsettling ghostly presence. The interwoven pizzicato strings and tribal drums add to the dramatic effect as the ultimate demise of the two lovers finally brings the play to a close.
Sykes has brought a truly contemporary feel to this adaptation of Romeo and Juliet; it feels accessible, fast-paced and a masterpiece in its own rite.
Photos: Jane Hobson
Romeo and Juliet is at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre from 17th June until 24th July 2021. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.