Zoey Dawson has adapted and directed a Romeo and Juliet like no other. Disregard all your preconceived ideas of this classic tragedy of the two star-crossed lovers, put aside the balconies and big cumbersome dresses, and bring back the teenager.
I’m not sure if it was the champagne performance (available last night) or the dangerous intimacy that comes with a front-row seat, but I was captivated throughout, and that’s really saying something when I attend Shakespeare.
Brigid Gallacher’s Juliet is the central focus of this tale that is about a 13 year old girl. The rest of the ensemble fight for their turn to play the young suitor, a capricious schoolboy whose emotional being flounders alongside the knowing and steadfast Juliet. Nikki Shiels (yes, there is an element of obsession,) once again delivers a tantalizing performance as Mercutio, especially during the lascivious Katy Perry Teenage Dream dance interlude, choreographed by James Welsby, which, for me, was well worth the price of admission.
Performed by an all-female cast with an (almost) all-female creative team, the work is as soft, ravishing and commanding as the inner thigh of Shakespeare’s heroine. The innocent pyjama-party prologue against a saccharine candy floss setting of Juliet’s bedroom is counter-intuitive and presents the dramatic irony early on for the inevitable tragedy that blossoms into a most eerily lamentable climax, where Juliet slits her wrist with the nurse’s leg-shaving razor.
Zoey Dawson has completely deconstructed this Romeo and Juliet, but in doing so, she has rebuilt it to communicate this, the most excellent and lamentable tragedy of Juliet- I mean- Romeo and Juliet.