Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare

Young Vic and Vesturport production

Young Vic

(2003)

Review by Philip Fisher

An Icelandic Romeo and Juliet featuring circus acts sounds intriguing. Somewhere along the way, the mix of Shakespeare, wacky, juvenile comedy and acrobatics fails to meld.

At the start, the introduction is in Icelandic from Peter, a kind of unShakespearean ringmaster. He soon switches into accented English but throughout the languages are swapped. In the case of Friar Laurence, this is even more difficult as, for much of the time, his English was unintelligible.

The comedy, including a gigantic, bearded nurse in (and out of) drawers, dominated the play up to the interval and was much loved by the numerous teenagers in the audience. It did so to such an extent that the plot tended to get lost.

Thereafter, the acrobatics entertained and Shakespeare began to fight back with the two stars, Gísli Örn Gardarsson (who also directs) as a very acrobatic Romeo, and Nina Dögg Filippusdóttir as his Juliet, getting to make some love and speeches. Even then, they were often forced into weak comedy when seriousness seemed called for.

The visual highlight amongst many on and above the narrow traverse stage, was the tragic final scene as ultimately, six actors ended suspended above the stage, in death.

Romeo and Juliet plays at the Young Vic until 25th October

This review originally appeared on Theatreworld in a slightly different version