Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Romeo and Juliet at Middle Temple Hall

Interval Drinks has ceased running around her new garden long enough to go and see some actual theatre. Though it wasn’t in a theatre, oh no, it was in the rather grand setting of Middle Temple Hall with its ornate beamed ceiling and stained glass windows.

A company called Theatre of Memory are currently staging an agreeable version of Romeo and Juliet there as part of the 2008 Temple Festival and there was something rather exciting about making my way through the courtyards and cloisters behind Fleet Street to this Elizabethan building and getting to explore its wood-panelled corridors before the show. I even forgot to visit the bar, distracted as I was.

And the production itself? Well Interval Drinks has been known to get a little swayed by beautiful buildings and places into which you wouldn’t normally venture, to the point where she can rather overlook a show’s flaws (Hysteria at St Barts earlier this year being a case in point) but this was a far more coherent and satisfying production than that. A solid, safe thing with solid, safe performances. Juliet Rylance was a decent Juliet, if a tad too composed and grown up. Romeo, played by Isaac from Heroes (Santiago Cabrera) was a bit insipid at first but he grew on me. Ann Mitchell, as the nurse, stole her scenes by sheer force of personality and heft of considerable bosom.

The room itself presented a number of challenges to the cast, being long and narrow, with the audience seated on three sides. Despite the audience’s proximity to the performers, the high ceilinged space made intimacy difficult and acoustics were also an issue at times. The lights too flickered on and off, seemingly at random, on more than one occasion in a pleasingly spooky and, I assume, an unintended fashion.

The costumes however were a joy, all whites and creams and golds. The Montague and Capulet men wore lace-fronted shirts, cockily angled hats, three quarter length trousers and gun holsters. They looked absurd but it worked, in context, surprisingly well.

So hardly a revelatory production of Romeo And Juliet but an enjoyable one if, at three hours, something of a slog. Interval Drinks believes tickets are available via the Barbican website.

Oh and, after this post, Interval Drinks promises not to write about herself in the third person any more. Personal pronouns are definitely the way to go.


Nessus said...

Juliette was just way too collected for my liking. I think one of the more beautiful qualities of the character, which is that of a young girl untempered by age, was lost in her portrayal. Her wisdom was too easily found.

Ann Mitchell stole the show and what a show she single-handedly put on!

Interval Drinks said...

I agree completely. Ann Mitchell was great - though at times she seemed to be acting in a different production completely.

Juliet was fine but too collected, as you say.