Theatre is back after a very long-awaited return and Regent’s Park Open Air theatre is the perfect place to ease back into ‘real life’ again. Set within Regent’s Park, the theatre is tucked away amongst the trees, the setting is remarkable and we haven’t even gotten to our seats yet. The audience’s excitement is palpable; and with the long summer days you’re able to see everyone in their seats, creating a different atmosphere than what is expected, but amazing to see people together for an enjoyable collective experience. Finally
The stark contrast of a harsh industrial set, reminiscent of a war field, created by Naomi Dawson, against the soft foliage of the park works so well. As soon as movement on stage stirs, the audience is hushed and I’m completely drawn into this new world. The details have been thoughtfully put together. Bold minimalistic outfits help to build a who’s who between the Montagues and Capulets, staying far away from any frump you might expect from a classic.
Immediately there is energy, it feels new. Watching the play, it’s apparent why it has become a favourite of centuries, full of dramatic irony, I feel privy to all the secrets, like a deity watching over the chaos unfolding. Tom Claxton as the illiterate and hilarious Peter, sets the story in motion. Kimberly Sykes’ rendition reminds us that it is set over a mere 4 days, the pace is fast, keeping the zest without waning.
The blind casting for this helps push the Shakespearean classic into to a new era, there is something significant in seeing yourself and your friends represented on stage.
I particularly enjoy the party scene (while wondering when we will be able to do that again) with the characters up on the balconies dancing while McCormack and Young find each other’s eyes and longingly stare across the stage at each other.
The blind casting for this helps push the Shakespearean classic into to a new era, there is something significant in seeing yourself and your friends represented on stage. The chemistry between the company is apparent. Joel McCormack and Isabel Adomakoh Young, playing Romeo & Juliet, encapsulate an obsessive and reckless young love. Kimberly Sykes imagines them as lustful teenagers, giving a sense of realism in a world of wealth and death.
Benovlia played by Aretha Ayeh, zealous, and loyal to Romeo. Emma Cunniffe, as Juliet’s nurse, is a comforting presence amongst the mess. Peter Hamilton Dyer as the well-meaning Friar, slow and gentle, trying to salvage love within the violence of Verona. Revenge driven Tybalt played ferociously by Michelle Fox. Kev McCurdy’s fraught fight scenes leading to the demise of her and Mercutio by the quick talking irishman Cavan Clarke the maker of mischief, cursing both the houses as his spritely energy is extinguished. We see Sykes gripping reimagination of the deaths seeing them as their souls leave their body.
Joel McCormack and Isabel Adomakoh Young, playing Romeo and Juliet, encapsulate an obsessive and reckless young love.
Time has flown by, and suddenly it’s over, rapturous applause erupts. A story of love and its abrupt end. Sykes has done well to give new life to Romeo and Juliet, with help from a talented creative team. It really is an experience like no other, definitely something you should see. (But bring a brolly just in case, you can never trust British weather!)