Romeo and Juliet again..(RSC at the Roundhouse, 4th December 2010)

It felt a little bit strange going into a theatre that looked like a theatre I had become very familiar with, but was slightly different.   In reconstructing  the Courtyard in the Roundhouse, the RSC have created a version of the Stratford theatre, rather than a replica theatre.  There’s no upper circle and the rusts and reds are transformed to blacks, resulting in the feeling of being in a black box.  The seats are not so comfortable, as they are clearly portable seating.  I was sat in the front row of the stalls and it felt that the stage was a little shorter and a little higher than the Courtyard thrust stage in Stratford.  Last time I saw this production, I was sat in the middle of the stalls in Newcastle, and it was great to be close to the performance again.  I feel that the proscenium arch has it advantages, but being near a thrust stage  is much more invigorating than sat far away from a proscenium arch stage.  Being right up on the edge of a performance is a fantastic experience and particularly for this production.  This time watching Romeo and Juliet, I felt that I was actually in the middle of the fight scene and the masked ball.  I was so close that Jonjo O’Neill’s Mercutio threw his money at me, and I was able to pick it up. For the first time when watching this production of Romeo and Juliet,  I noticed that Mariah Gale’s Juliet wiggles her toes just as Romeo is about to drink the poison.  He has his back to her and doesn’t see her doing this.  It’s as if a moment could change everything and if he had  turned round, the ending could have been so different.  As I was watching this time, I was thinking that Juliet was a bit like Hermione, and in the white wedding dress, she was  like a statue coming alive.  Instead of finding new life, she comes back to life only to brutally stab herself and die in an instant.

I will see this production again in the new theatre, and I am very interested in seeing

My Other Posts

http://betweentheacts.wordpress.com/2010/06/11/romeo-and-juliet-the-courtyard-theatre-wc-17th-may-2010/

http://betweentheacts.wordpress.com/2010/10/15/romeo-and-juliet-theatre-royal-newcastle-and-york/

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Antony and Cleopatra (Liverpool Playhouse, Saturday November 13th 2010)

The production of Antony and Cleopatra recently performed at the Liverpool Playhouse (directed by Janet Suzman) was clearly a good solid safe production of the play. It felt that the time had been spent on speaking the verse and thinking about blocking scenes, and I felt there were very few flaws.
There were some very nice touches.  As they take their seats, the audience see the stage through a gauze curtain. We are introduced to Egypt in the middle of a celebration. Cleopatra is masked and she turns to the audience to reveal herself.  We find Antony in a drunken stupor at her feet.  The production was able to show us a Cleopatra at play and at work.  When at work Cleopatra puts her glasses on and sat at a table signing documents.  There are also moments of humour such as Cleopatra’s attendants teasing Mardian as he is not very good at playing his music.

As much as I enjoyed the production, I didn’t leave the theatre feeling exhilarated, just content.  I know that considering the popularity of the Liverpool production and the great reviews that it might be controversial to say this, but  I felt that the RSC production of Antony and Cleopatra took some risks and they paid off in the end. I know the RSC production has been a little slow to warm up in previews, but it has turned out to be thought provoking and exciting.

Reviews and Previews

Janet Suzman interview for Antony and Cleopatra…
Kim Cattrall: absolutely fabulous | Culture | T…
Antony and Cleopatra Liverpool
Antony and Cleopatra – review
FT.com / Arts / Theatre & Dance – Antony and Cl…