Romeo & Juliet – 28 August 2019, The Holt, Sheffield

Romeo & Juliet is not only possibly Shakespeare’s most well-known and well-loved play but also one of the most famous love stories of all time, so we were delighted to send our reviewer Artisan Friendly along to the opening night of Infinite Nothings Theatre interpretation of the production.

“The Holt is a fantastic performance space. It has a great feel and is extremely accessible and very flexible in the various ways pieces can be staged. Tonight, the chairs are arranged in a promenade style, providing the impression that the 45 seat capacity area is, in fact, a court. A nice touch, as we are about to witness Shakespeare’s tragedy which tells the story of two warring families – the Montagues and Capulets – and the love that two teenagers find, despite being on opposing sides, ‘Romeo and Juliet’.

When we entered the space, chill out sounds played, creating a pleasant and relaxing ambience, tricking us into believing that we are perhaps about to see something soothing to the senses. There were various entry and exit points which helped with the dynamics of the show as did the edited script, which kept the tension high and propelled the action forward. The Narrator (Malvolio) used the open floor well, being constantly on the move and directing his narration to everyone in the audience. The director incorporated the full space, including a flight of steps for the balcony scene between Romeo and Juliet. This allowed for an intimacy amongst the audience and the characters as we were, at times, in very close proximity to each other.

The lighting was subtle, being mostly provided by the natural light refracting through the roof windows of The Holt and, as it faded, added an extra element to the atmosphere. As the story got darker and more complex and the body count began to clock – so did the lighting. If you are not familiar with the story, it all starts with Mercutio and Tybalt being slain and from then on, is somewhat relentless. I had to reflect on the genius of Shakespeare whilst watching this time around – he was doing Game of Thrones 500 years ago!

The production mostly incorporated casual dress with minimal props, set and costumes. At one point, Mercutio wore a particularly fetching maroon jacket and there were some beautifully crafted masks for the costume ball. Also, the Friar had some very interesting attire, which was very reminiscent of a botanist. I guess he definitely knows a thing or two about herbs so, a good choice there. Overall, a theme of differing shades of red pervaded in the casts attire, perhaps reflecting the blood shed as a tragic consequence of Romeo and Juliet first meeting.

The cast were word perfect. Mercutio was particularly hot headed and twisted, which carried some real punch and Lady Capulet was seductively conniving and unsympathetic. She was somewhat reminiscent of an out of control and strongminded stage mother. There were some well-choreographed fight scenes and some sweet, tender moments, such as the meeting between the Friar and Juliet when she requests a ‘play dead’ potion.

The piano music that punctuated the final few horrific scenes was perfect. Slow, sombre and sensitive with (ironically) sounds of breathing in the mix. This added further depth and weight to the tragic denouement of this brutal, beautiful and bloody story.”

Your last chance to see Romeo & Juliet is on Thursday 29 August at The Holt, Sheffield. Tickets are £8. To book visit https://billetto.co.uk/e/bloodlines-romeo-juliet-tickets-369387/?fbclid=IwAR1nmPGKl6ODhmxUoDS9MmA4bDfyHLWkLoBMMjSYo4lryuyw_NrOETXyrFc.

Infinite Nothings’ mission is to stimulate the minds of audiences through the engagement of Shakespeare’s work. They aspire to take Shakespeare and classical texts beyond the theatre whilst ensuring young people have a deeper understanding of his work and exploring its possibilities. For further information visit https://infinitenothingsth.wixsite.com/infinitenothings?fbclid=IwAR1bAELlttRjzJ4uDB7lsLniOuVwVRBCQo6EnwF7zhObXthtbxRv9iKjGvw.

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