Romeo and Juliet

Love and Madness Productions at the Norwich Playhouse

Romeo and Juliet bursts on to the stage in a sizzling flash of light and sword-play.

This is the world, but not quite as we know it: the moon is leaden grey and in its changeable shadow, tribal rituals take the place of balls and futuristic sci-fi costumes are ripped to reveal primitive animal skins colours.

Madness paced the stage in many shapes from Mercutio's ecstatic dreams to Romeo's furious rage at his friend's death, to Juliet's raving in the tomb.

In these distorted times, even love itself brought with it a kind of mania.

But where this production excelled was in its handling of insanity's comic counterpart: improbability: the near farcical situations that desperate times create. When the friar's letter miscarried, the tragic absurdity hit with full force.

The ensemble was patchy, but the pace carried them. The strongest performance came from Mercutio, Nicholas Kempsey, whose death was gut-wrenching.

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Suzannah Howlett, as the nurse, had a good comic touch and actor manager, Norfolk's own Neil Sheppeck, made an engaging and believable Romeo.

“For now these hot days is the mad blood stirring”...

A fast-paced and moving production which left me wanting more.