Romeo & Juliet at the Garrick Theatre Review
So I was anticipating seeing the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company production of Romeo and Juliet for weeks!
You could hear the worldwide gasp when Kenneth Branagh came onto the stage first to say that Richard Madden had severely injured his ankle! Luckily Madden pushed through, under some unnoticeable stage changes. And it was not apparent that he was injured. Trust me I would have noticed as I was watching Richard Madden very closely. For performance reasons, of course.
|Jack Colgrave Hirst as Benvolio|
There were slight differences between the original text and the Garrick script. I only noticed having studied the text twice in my lifetime. And the fact my favourite line was either cut or accidentally missed:
‘Thou cut’st my head off with a golden axe, and smilest upon the stroke that murders me.’
That was the line, for anyone who cared.
Also, there was an additional text from the Nurse and Mercutio methinks. Probably to widen their parts, which was okay. I liked Mercutio’s additional lines, I wasn’t so keen on the expansion of the Nurse’s role.
Branagh used inspiration from this tale to turn Mercutio into a down-on-his-luck, but no less fun and beguiling version of the swashbuckling mate of Romeo that we all know and love. And Derek Jacobi was stupendous as it.
He oozed charm and whip and added his own catchphrase in ‘ba-boom’. Much like Sheldon’s version of ‘Bazinga’. Saying it at the most inopportune times, and being vicious in a loveable way.
His death scene was perhaps not as moving as others, nor as angry until he was off-stage. But it was very convincingly done! Romeo is left with the blame and sadness that comes with it.
It’s only a shame that Mercutio is not in the second act at all.
Romeo & Juliet – the title – seems to describe the split of the show. The first act was about Romeo and the second was about Juliet. There was a little imbalance throughout the show.
The first half was very funny, unusually so. Even after the death of Mercutio, there was a modicum of humour. Yet the second act was dark and dreary. There were moments of pure menace from Lord Capulet who looked as though he would attack his own daughter at one moment! It’s terrifying.
|Death Scene – spot the imagery…|
Unfortunately, due to the famous nature of the show, there are only certain moments that can be changed to fit the director’s vision. The death scene is unchangeable, so it is almost dull. It was moving, don’t get me wrong, and Richard Madden and Lily James did it well. But we all know what is going to happen.
I think the balcony scene and the meeting scene were great! That was down to the staging and Lily James, for the majority of it.
The balcony scene was equally as so. Juliet, aged 14 – and believably so – has stolen a bottle of champagne from the party. She swigs from it out of sight on the balcony. It is believable, charming and very funny. This is where Richard Madden’s comedic abilities shone through. The balcony scene was very sweet, not sickly so. And the drunken aspect of Juliet made it very amusing yet charming. Probably my favourite scene of the evening.
From Derek Jacobi’s singing and drunken screeching of ‘Romeo!’
Lily James’ champagne swigging.
Richard Madden’s comedic abilities.
Meera Syal’s banter.
And Jack Colgrave Hirst and Michael Rouse’s performances…
There were a lot of factors in the show which I loved and deserved to be loved. Perfection.