Romeo and Juliet

William Shakespeare
Shakespeare's Globe
(2004)

This year, for its Season of Star-Crossed Lovers, the Globe has courted popularity. It certainly worked on a balmy May night as the opening play, featuring the original Star-Crossed Lovers, played to an appreciative packed house.

Master of Play (director) Tim Carroll generally manages to find all of the humour going in his productions. On this occasion, he was greatly helped by two veritable jokers, John Paul Connolly as the wise-cracking Capulet servant and Bette Bourne as a rather common but lovable nurse, with a bit of panto ugly sister thrown in for good measure.

The very expressive Kananu Kirimi, already something of a Shakespeare veteran though still young, conveys Juliet's youthful ardour and enthusiasm well. Her meetings with Tom Burke's Romeo have a spark of real passion, especially a quite entrancing initial seduction.

The young man is very downbeat, both in his yearning love for Juliet and in his subsequent pining. This is especially shown up by comparison with his lively friend Mercutio, James Garnon.

This is generally a robust production up to the interval with much swaggering after a most amusing opening that is assuredly not from any folio that Shakespeare wrote.

The tragic second half has a slower feel and is distinguished by much breast-beating and a good performance from John McEnery as Friar Lawrence.

The fight scenes are suitably swash-buckling although Tybalt's end nearly didn't happen as, on this occasion, Romeo lost his sword and had to borrow that of his victim. To their credit, they carried this off with aplomb.

As always at the Globe, the stage is used to the full and the Elizabethan costumes, courtesy of Jenny Tiramani, are sumptuous, especially that worn by Miss Karimi through most of the play.

This is a good solid start to a season that has another crowd-pleaser next, the rather cheerier Much Ado About Nothing.

Reviewer: Philip Fisher