Modern twist to classic love story at Sheringham

A classic Shakespeare love story is being given a modern twist in a production at Sheringham aimed at youngsters as well as the traditional audience.

Romeo and Juliet's famous balcony scene will be enacted amid a scaffolding set in the play, being staged by the Little Theatre in conjunction with the London-based Drama Studio.

It comes as the romantic story, embroiled in family feuding and politics, is also featuring in a animated film Gnomeo and Juliet, where a star-studded list of voice-over artists, put the tale into the setting of two rival families of garden gnomes.

Theatre director Debbie Thompson said the Sheringham production was also aimed at appealing to the younger generation through special schools performances, but also to the regular theatre-goers.

The six-strong cast had special training in fight simulation and choreography, and were joined by eight local young people in the chorus.

A scaffold set, which suggested the surroundings, also gave a contemporary feel.

The young actors were enjoying preparing for the play, said Mrs Thompson. 'At drama school people dread the Shakespeare part of the syllabus, but always end up enjoying and learning from it,' she explained.

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'Shakespeare wrote for actors, and the script provides tips – with pauses showing where to breathe and the pace of language indicating the speed,' she said.

The theatre's links with the Drama Studio came through its director, Peter Craze, who is a patron at Sheringham and had directed previous summer repertory plays.

The 'early rep' Shakespeare followed a similar production of Much Ado About Nothing last year which was well-received by local schools. Romeo is being played by Richard Keightly who has just finished a Peter Hall production of Twelfth Night at the National Theatre, while recent graduate Charlotte Blake is Juliet. Other cast members include some returnees from previous repertory plays including Nick Earnshaw and Ilona Linthwaite.

Catherine Gerrard is playing both Lady Capulet and the male role of Mercutio in a reversal of the old Shakespearean tradition when men originally played all the cast members including the women.

Romeo and Juliet has 7.30pm performances from March 15 - 19, 10am shows on March 16 and 18, and a 2.30pm matinee on March 19.

Tickets (�11, under 18s �7) and information from the box office on 01263 822347 or visit http://sheringhamlittletheatre.yolasite.com/

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