Review: Romeo and Juliet

Emma Lee gives her verdict on GB Theatre Company's Romeo and Juliet at Norwich Cathedral.

It might not quite have been the perfect summer's evening – but Norfolk theatre-goers are clearly made of stern stuff.

With an audience armed with blankets and waterproofs, under a threatening steely grey sky, Norwich Cathedral's annual Shakespeare Festival opened last night.

GB Theatre Company make a welcome return to the historic cloisters – this year alternating between tragedy and comedy with Romeo and Juliet performed in tandem with Twelfth Night.

Under the direction of Norwich-born Neil Sheppeck, the Bard's story of the brawling Capulets and Montagues is taken back to basics – the set is minimal, the emotions palpable and the sword-play thrilling.

Not long out of drama school, Lucy Wray plays Juliet. A star in the making, her performance was wonderfully sparky – one of the most engaging portrayals of the character, who can sometimes be a bit one-dimensional, I've seen.

Her Romeo – and the pair has a great chemistry – is played by Gabriel Thomson.

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He grew up on screen playing Michael Harper in the long-running BBC sitcom My Family and effortlessly makes the transition from screen to stage.

While the star-crossed lovers take centre stage, special mention must be made of Joel Sams, who plays Mercutio – no entendre is knowingly underplayed, Sinoed Jones as the scene-stealing Nurse and Oliver Cudbill, who plays Benvolio.

Darkness fell as the final scenes of the tragedy played out.

And the rain managed to hold off until the cast took their final bow.

Emma Lee

Romeo and Juliet will be performed at Norwich Cathedral tomorrow (Thursday) and on Saturday. Twelfth Night will be performed tonight (Wednesday) and on Friday. Advance tickets are available from the Cathedral shop by calling the EDP box office on 01603 772175 or the Norwich Theatre Royal box office on 01603 630000.

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