Sheffield University Drama Society’s Romeo and Juliet – Sheffield University Drama Studio, 21 April 2023

Review by Jacob Bush.

Celebrating 50 years of performing at the University Drama Studio, Sheffield University Drama Society (SUDS) takes to the stage, for the first time, with a production of Romeo and Juliet. SUDS present a fairly traditional take on the well-known classic telling the story of two young lovers who have the world stacked against them as their families feud against each other.

Alicia Dean and Heather Knowles direct the production, adding their first SUDS directing credit to their theatrical CVs. The production is a slightly slow to get going, but as time goes on Dean and Knowles do better at pulling out the comedy in an otherwise very tragic story. At times, the production can feel slow with silent blackouts as the set gets changed – even adding some music to the transitions would help keep the play moving. Dean and Knowles don’t particularly do anything unexpected with their production of Romeo and Juliet, but they provide audiences with a traditional production of the play. Sometimes Shakespeare can just be done as it was written rather than being invented or modernised.

Leading the cast is Nick Lewis as Romeo and Missy van Shaick as Juliet. Lewis brings a beautiful naivety and warmth to Romeo, portraying the young man head over in heels in love fantastically. Shaick brings some fire and passion to Juliet, finding moments of comedy and getting more laughs than a Juliet might usually. She also shines towards the end of the play after Juliet becomes angry at the events around her, and not just emotional.

Elliot Dale-Hughes has a fantastic stage presence as the short-lived Mercutio, and has excellent rapport with Ryan Harrison as Benvolio. Ian Browlee brings a level of class to the proceedings as Friar Laurence, whilst Charlie Richardson’s Nurse is funny and wonderfully maternal. Richardson’s Nurse is a slightly more understated one than is sometimes seen but this ensures the Nurse is fully human and fully present to comfort Juliet.

This faithful production of Romeo and Juliet is well performed and perfectly fits the venue that used to be a church. It uses the whole space effectively and gives many local people the chance to shine on stage.

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