The tale of Romeo and Juliet is a universal tale, one of conflict, sorrow and love; the fact that it’s such a well-known story means it faces the challenge of an audience’s skepticism before they even enter through the doors of the theatre. PerformInternational promote a supportive, challenging, open and fun environment for their students to learn and develop in. Romeo and Juliet meets this challenge as the ensemble truly embodies all that the company live by.

The theatre at Rudolf Steiner House, nestled among busy roads behind Baker Street station, in amongst towering Georgian houses, is a hidden gem. Through the charming gift shop and some large wooden doors you begin to hear faint beating drums before you enter the auditorium, luring the audience along the hall to begin their journey. The vast theatre holds a large and all encompassing stage, reminiscent of an old school hall. The beating of the drums are haunting, creating a peculiar atmosphere as the audience wait for the show to begin. The stage is simplistic, with several wooden panels jutting out of stage left hanging from the centre. Isotta Anchisi designed the staging; props are limited, adaptable and changeable, and this minimalistic approach is innovative and effective to the story.

The ensemble was comfortable, together and tight in their line deliveries, stage choreography and the whole performance was very fluid. Several of the actors changed and swapped into minor characters, but their presence was powerful and did not go unnoticed. However, I wasn’t entirely convinced by the chemistry between Romeo and Juliet – an imperative element. Romeo, played by Manish Srivastava was engaging, pitiful and overall a credible Romeo. While Victoria Appleton who played Juliet was elusive, clever and beguiling in her pursuit of her forbidden love. Aisha Kent as Juliet’s nurse stole the show with her depiction of the caring, worldly and amusing figure in Juliet’s life, who only wants happiness for her.

Taking on Shakespeare has its risks, but PerformInternational put their heart and soul into this production and telling the tale of Romeo and Juliet. This production had a freshness and passion about it that brought new depth to a story that we know so well.

Romeo and Juliet is playing at Rudolf Steiner House until August 28 as part of the Camden Fringe Festival. 

Image by Camden Fringe Festival