Unfortunately, I read Richard Ouzounian’s vicious review of the opening night production of the play, just before I started this commentary. He did not hate everything, just the direction by Tim Carroll, the use of original practices and Romeo. He really hated Romeo!
My view is different. I enjoyed the production, although I would not describe it as the best I have ever seen and certainly not as perfect. The one I enjoyed the most was one done by a travelling company from the Globe Theatre, performed in the courtyard of Herstmonceux Castle. It was a young cast, performing outdoors from a VW bus, and it was the first and only time I have seen a raunchy production of the play. It was great fun.
This production was different from the standard, classic production. It was funny, at least in the first act, when the actors did not know they were in a tragedy. The language was clear and well spoken – I heard lines that have never struck me before. The actors were generally great. I agree with Ouzounian that Daniel Briere (Romeo) was not as strong as one might want. But I found him charming, and think he has great potential. The usual excellent performances by Sara Topham, Tom McCamus, Jonathan Goad, Scott Wentworth and Tyrone Savage kept things moving.
I liked the lighting, with the house lights up. It does connect you to the action and definitely keeps you awake. No, it is not the Globe Theatre in the middle of the afternoon, with the groundlings wandering all around. But it was interesting and it was worth watching. I would rather have this than just the same old thing.