So, last night I was reminded of the value of re-connecting with old friends. I met up with a good friend who regrettably I had lost touch with following our time at sixth form. We collected her from her house and on the journey to the restaurant and over dinner, it was lovely to feel like we’d never been apart for as long as we had been. There were lots of laughs and plenty of good conversation. After dinner, we headed off to the main part of our get together: The GB Theatre company’s production of Romeo and Juliet.
The production took place in the beautiful grounds of Blaise Castle, somewhere I haven’t been in about two years. It is described by Jane Austen in Northanger Abbey as ‘the finest place in England’, and wandering around it I found myself feeling a strong sense of truth in that statement. It was tranquil, stately and overall stunning, and I found myself longing to wander around the grand eighteenth century manor house… next time, eh? We arrived at the dairy garden, a mini kind of amphitheatre with nine rows, which made the production more intimate and effective. Set was minimal and characters could make their entrances and exits through the audience. At times, they would even interact with the crowd, one such incident took place during the party at the Capulet household, where the wonderful gentleman who played Capulet was giving one of his excited speeches in an epic boom of a voice, placing an arm around a woman in the audience – she looked rather taken aback to say the least!
Other stand out performances for me came from the fantastic Gabriel Thomson, who was a fine example of how television actors are capable of turning their hand to theatre having been a household name in My Family (of BBC one fame) for 11 years. His take on the famous Montague son struck me as perfectly balanced – lovesick without being too whiny, strong but with air of softness and vulnerability. His delivery was confident and controlled, he seemed at home on stage. Favourite scene – In Friar Lawrence’s cell where he laments his banishment. Juliet’s nurse arrives and he just broke down in her arms. It was so convincing that I was almost crying for him!
Mark Carlisle-Capulet. What I loved about this man was his ability to go to extremes;He embodied the vision of Capulet I had from my GCSE studies, a bit of a whirlwind who could go from being wonderfully jolly to raging bull depending on whatever the scene called for and make it look so seamless, always keeping the audience on their toes. Need I remind you how epic I thought his voice was? 😉 Favourite scenes – the party where he tells Tybalt not to stir things, where he throws Juliet out on her refusal to marry Paris.
Sioned Jones – Nurse Now, where would any good production of Romeo and Juliet be without an amazing actress in the role of the nurse? We had one in the form of Sioned Jones, her comic timing was SENSATIONAL and we loved her to pieces.
Phillip Scott- Wallace- Tybalt. Delightfully evil, and looked DAMN fine doing so 😉
Casting aside, the other element that made this production for me where the fight scenes. Well choreographed and extremely tight and well executed, I wasn’t at all put off by the absence of any fake blood!
Overall, it was a brilliant production, brought to life by the vision of director Neil Sheppeck and a wonderfully talented company. It was my first experience of the GB Theatre company and an open air theatre production and I’m certainly hoping it won’t be my last! 😀