Tag Archive | "Romeo and Juliet"

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Blog: An actor writes – Why no-one will watch TV with me any more

Posted on 21 November 2013 by Briony Rawle

5614603552_0af5c7496cIt’s funny how people’s jobs stop them from enjoying things. My friend who is a designer got upset the other day because the name of a hotel was written in lower case letters on one side of the building and in upper case letters on the other. Another friend buys advertising for a TV channel and spends every ad break analysing what the ads say about the demographic of the people who are watching the programmes they punctuate (“Why are people who watch Bargain Hunt obsessed with life insurance?”). The sad truth is that getting up close and personal with any industry will ruin the magic for you quicker than a Vegas wedding will ruin what might have been a long and healthy friendship.

This is particularly true of acting because it actually ruins something that people are supposed to do for fun, rather than just adverts and buildings (apologies to any keen building-spotters reading this). I am absolutely insufferable when it comes to watching TV, films and plays, because it’s not just my own party that I will comprehensively poop with my unshutupable insider narrative, but also that of whoever has the misfortune to sit down sociably with me to watch something.

“You anticipated the answer to that question, didn’t you?” I’ll ask Orlando Bloom. “Don’t TRY to cry, try NOT to cry,” I’ll shout at Mercedes from Hollyoaks. “Stop playing a state, play your objective!” I’ll huff at an actor during a play (in my head). “I wonder how they made that baby cry,” I’ll wonder aloud, spoiling everyone’s enjoyment of the scene as they imagine a poor baby being horribly upset or frightened by some film set runner so that its parents can make money from it. “I wonder how they get the blood out of the costumes in time for the next show,” I’ll muse while walking out of Romeo and Juliet. Nothing is safe from me. I will oust supposedly ‘real’ testimonials on adverts by telling whoever is listening that I applied for the role of one of the ‘real’ customers on the advert, and I’ll inexplicably shout “That’s Jonathan!” during the next one. I can see where someone on Made in Chelsea has been told to say something specific at some point during the natural, normal, totally everyday conversation they’re having in front of a camera crew, and I will point out that all the other people in the cafe in which the conversation is taking place are professional actors who probably aren’t being paid very much. Watching something with me is like trying to enjoy a Big Mac with the guy who runs the abattoir.

As miserable as it is for my friends who have to listen to my ranting most of the time, this phenomenon makes it twice as special for me when I watch something that genuinely grips me. When usually all you see is cogs and batteries and moving parts, being taken in by something that successfully manages to suspend your disbelief is truly wonderful, and is what stops me from becoming completely cynical. My Vegas marriage isn’t perfect, but between the spats and bickering there are moments of pure marital bliss.

Photo by Flickr user Dr Evil Zombie under a Creative Commons Licence. 

Briony Rawle

Briony Rawle

Briony studied English Literature at Warwick University, then an MA in acting at Drama Centre London. She is an actor currently living just outside London, and is a founding member of Threepenny Theatre.

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Review: Romeo and Juliet, Ambassadors Theatre

Posted on 11 November 2013 by Samuel Sims

Romeo and Juliet NYT

With alumni including Academy- and Olivier-award winner Dame Helen Mirren, James Bond’s Daniel Craig and Downton Abbey‘s Golden Globe nominated Michelle Dockery, the National Youth theatre has a reputation for training some of the most successful and talented performers of the past 50 years. It is also a great way for budding thespians to hone their craft without paying the fees required to attend a London drama school, giving them an opportunity that otherwise may have been missed.

The NYT is currently running a ‘coming of age’ theme with a whole host of ambitious treats including Pope Joan, Tory Boyz, Prince of Denmark and Romeo and Juliet, the latter three of which are presently playing at London’s Ambassador’s theatre, usual home to Stomp.

Romeo and Juliet, as we all know, has been interpreted on stage about 5,000,003 times in countless languages and using many a historical back-drop, most of which are relatively contemporary ones. Is it controversial to point out that though it is indeed a beautiful and heartbreaking story, we’re perhaps a little sick of it now?

This production is an adaptation of Lolita Chakrabarti’s TV documentary When Romeo Met Juliet and directed by Paul Roseby. Whilst impressive, it doesn’t really feel as cutting edge as perhaps it thinks it is. Set in 1980s Camden, the set is an explosion of band posters and rich tones albeit with a raw and industrial feel, perfect for a youth subculture seemingly ever on the edge, and costumes (headed by Richard Gellar) are simply everything you imagine when thinking of the decade: all Boy George extravagance, New Romantic too cool for school, and acres of leather and bleached denim. The masquerade ball scene sees the cast don Margaret Thatcher masks and this, whilst predictable, is still mildly effective and, aesthetically, pretty eerie. The use of the backstage area is a clever and inventive one as cast members sing and play through some 80s classics, visible through metal grating. Their voices too are of a high (yet perhaps not completely polished) standard.

On the whole the actors are evidently very talented. Performances feel real and they’re comfortable with bringing humour to the table (though some of that could just have been down to the gaggle of school children in the audience finding the romantic scenes hilarious…) especially making the Friar Caribbean with a strong accent, much to the delight of said children and their teachers. Niall McNamee’s Romeo and Aruhan Galieva’s Juliet are fresh, and Galieva especially puts up a spirited fight against the conforms of her strict and ill-tempered father. Abigail Rose’s Nurse marries a comical swagger with plenty of tenderness and motherly care towards the young Juliet. Her performance is a remarkable one that stands head and shoulders above the rest.

This is a definite must see, especially for those wanting to see some unripe talent with bags of potential. The stars of tomorrow? They might well be.

Romeo and Juliet is playing at the Ambassadors theatre until 29 December 2013. For more information and tickets, see the National Youth Theatre’s website.

Samuel Sims

Sam is Reviews Co-ordinator for A Younger Theatre as well as a freelance writer and editor who hails from Hull, though he has been in London for roughly 300 years. He enjoys multi-coloured socks, eating sausage rolls and seeing as much theatre as humanly possible.

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Review: Romeo and Juliet, Royal Opera House

Posted on 21 October 2013 by Ruby-isla Cera-Marle

Romeo and Juliet, The Royal Ballet; ROH,
Since its premiere in 1965, Kenneth Macmillan’s Romeo and Juliet has been a staple of the Royal Ballet’s repertoire. Although this much loved piece has been performed countless times, prior to the start of last night’s performance there was an air of excited anticipation that filled the Royal Opera House. Reviving her role as Juliet, this production would be Lauren Cuthbertson’s first full-length ballet in 18 months, partnered fantastically by Federico Bonelli. Cuthbertson’s eagerly-anticipated return did not disappoint.

As you would expect the crux of such a seminal production is always going to be to the characterisation of the titular characters. Bonelli’s Romeo is boisterous, energetic and passionate; my only slight criticism would be at some points his facial expressions were unnecessarily stern. Cuthbertson is a true delight to watch as she captures Juliet’s playful wide-eyed innocence brilliantly. Cuthbertson is an extremely expressive performer and this was perhaps most evident in Act III when her parents are trying to force her to marry Paris (the suitor of their choosing). Her strong-willed defiance is illustrated by sharp arabesques as she dramatically pulls away from Paris before a performing a series of bourrées as she hurries to get away from him. Cuthbertson then hurls herself upon her bed and hides under the covers, this action provokes laughter from the audience seemingly in recognition that she has encapsulated a teenage tantrum perfectly. Be it love, anger, heartache or despair, Cuthbertson’s portrayal of Juliet’s emotions are always believable which adds a heartfelt dimension to her performance.

Each of the three acts contains a pas de deux between the protagonists. Sergey Prokofiev’s score soars during the iconic balcony scene, as, gazing into each other’s eyes, the pair perform a duet that comprises of daring lifts and sensual partner work. Cuthbertson appears to melt into Bonelli’s arms and the chemistry between them is palpable. For me, the most moving pas de deux of the production was the one which occurs when Romeo mistakenly thinks that Juliet is dead, he clings to her as he attempts to dance with her one last time. Here Macmillan’s choreography poignantly depicts the conflicting nature of grief.

Macmillan’s choreography feels timeless and although many decades have passed since Nureyev and Fonteyn first performed the roles of Romeo and Juliet, their present day counterparts continue to captivate audiences.

Romeo and Juliet is playing at the Royal Opera House until 7 Dec. For tickets and details of the varying line-ups please visit the Royal Opera House website. Photo by Bill Cooper.

Ruby-isla Cera-Marle

Ruby-isla Cera-Marle

Ruby isla Cera Marle recently graduated from Royal Holloway University of London where she studied Spanish and European Literature and Cultural Studies. Currently Ruby is working as Press and Marketing Assistant at Rambert Dance Company..

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Handlebards Blog: The Week Of The Birthday Castle, The Knighted Steak and The Brass Band.

Posted on 02 August 2013 by Handlebards Blog

As some of you may have noticed, the HandleBards have a stock photo of us in our costumes in the same position in front of each venue. As everyone will have experienced, week three was a week of scorching sunshine. In Durham we combined these two features as we left Crook Hall with a photo of us in just our underwear and socks. We managed to do this by deftly dodging the paying public wandering around the grounds, whilst at the same time grabbing an employee and getting her to take said photo. In hindsight this may have been a little more frightening to her than we anticipated, so if she reads this, thank you and sorry.

pants photo

On Tuesday we travelled to Bowes Museum, a beautiful structure originally created to rival the V&A in London for a free show of Twelfth Night. As Bowes Museum had a public park we managed to camp by the venue, and for the first time ever on the tour, four grown mature and sophisticated men (us) feared for our lives as unknown dog walkers, joggers and the occasional drunk ambled past our tents in the dead of night. For one night, we felt we had camped in a budget thriller movie, as the mundane became potential fearful events whilst the night drew in.

We woke up on Wednesday, alive and with all of our limbs (possibly because Tom had slept with the tent mallet by his side in case of potential intruders) and set off to Bolton Castle. Our journey to Bolton Castle was our greatest challenge yet. Whilst only 25 miles, we had to brave the Yorkshire Dales in the heat of the day on bikes not suited for the terrain. Our bikes are the wonderful hybrid Specialised Series, which are light and fast paced – mountain bikes would have been preferable for this journey. For me, this was an incredibly uncomfortable trip, which felt very dangerous. The ground underfoot was dusty and covered in rocks and potholes, if you didn’t peddle at quite a fast speed the bike would skid and fall. Even then, if you peddled too fast and turned sharply…. the bike would skid and fall. I was just grateful I wasn’t the one pulling the 55-kilo trailer on the continuous incline that was the town of Reeth. The scenery however, was stunning.

As we were used by this point to cycling journeys of 40 miles followed by a show we were confident this one would not take long. We were wrong. After five hours we reached Bolton castle, much of our speed was hindered by the fact we had to cycle ahead of the trailer, dismount, run back, and help whoever was carrying the trailer at that point by pushing it up the hill. It was 3pm and absolutely baking when we met Katie the venue manager, who took one look at our sweaty appearances, took pity on us and lead us to the canteen for a cold drink. The area in which we would be performing in turned out to be the Castles courtyard surrounded by its semi preserved walls, battlements and a working portcullis which was lowered as we set up.

After the heavy day’s cycling we were grateful we would not have to strain our voices to be heard in the space, and the atmospheric surroundings added wonderfully to the show. At the end of each show Paul Moss explained to the audience that we had gallantly managed to cycle here via Reeth, and an older man in the crowd laughed and later told us that the journey was nothing and he did similar ever day. I must admit that, on hearing these words, I was impressed the cast remained smiling and none broke down in tears.

Tom, the son of the Lord of Bolton Castle, told us that instead of camping in the castle’s grounds, we were welcome to stay in the castle. On our own. The whole of Bolton Castle, with lowered portcullis and wood fire, would for one night be the HandleBards Castle. We wished we had our own flag to fly from the battlements.

The next day we cycled 50miles, still through the Dales, on our way to Houghton Tower. We fuelled ourselves by stopping at a tearoom in Aysgarth Falls, where we ate all the food, which helped us do the trip in seven hours. A special shout out must be made to Tom Dixon who managed to cycle up a killer hill, which ran for half a mile at a 16% incline pulling the trailer. He did all this without stopping and managed to keep his top on.

We arrived at Houghton Tower in Preston to perform both Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night. Here we met the Brothers of Swing who would join us in performing Twelfth Night. These cheeky chappies were brilliant at charming an audience, and transformed the scenes we incorporated them into, adding to the comedy of the whole situation. The famous Orsino speech “If music be the food of love” was accompanied by an a cappela version of ‘Come fly with me’ by Frank Sinatra. They nonchalantly strutted through the audience, until the words ‘Enough no more, tis not as sweet now as it was before’ halted them in their tracks and with muttered words of outrage they reluctantly sat with the chuckling audience. Houghton Tower was where King James I is said to have knighted a particularly tasty loin of beef during a meal in 1617. This is now why we call it ‘Sirloin Steak.’

The next day, the HandleBards assembled and began their journey to the Monastery in Manchester for a performance of Romeo and Juliet in one of our first indoor venues since Glasgow. The 40-mile journey went smoothly and we met the 25-piece Eagley Brass Band who would be performing with us. In their very professional matching uniforms, the band played with expert skill, the sound reverberating off the walls of the monastery beautifully. Whilst the actors had to lower their volume whilst performing due to the echoey acoustics, the band seemed to overpower even physics, as every note played could be heard perfectly.

This was an incredible week for the HandleBards: we survived the Dales, owned a castle for a night, entered the room where James I knighted some beef, and were accompanied by a 25-piece brass band in the Monastery. Surreal and wonderful and full of hard work, we look forward to week four.

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