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
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