Romeo and Juliet

CHRISTOPHER SMITH Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich


> Maddermarket Theatre, Norwich

Hard marbled panels cracked and flaking, a floor with a severe geometric pattern, make up John Stokes' setting.

This, he seems to be saying, is a hard world, a place where soft feelings and gentle spirits will be sorely bruised before they come to grief.

Director Tim Seely is less traditional. He opts for modern costumes. They remind us that violence reaches across the ages, crushing love and poetry and showing us just how close renaissance Italy was to gangland.

Pale and petite Ellen Kemp is a vulnerable Juliet. She struggles with the stirrings of desire. By contrast Sally Dixon brings out the sexual rivalry that explains Lady Capulet's nature.

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Dot Binns gives substance and some knowing smiles to the role of the conniving Nurse. The personable Ross Cullum is Romeo, tried a little too hard by demands beyond his experience.

The Friar, in the imposing form of Giles Connelly, aspires to dominate him with disastrous results. In an ironic touch he also takes the role of the chorus.

The plots of few plays are as well known as that of Romeo and Juliet. Yet though the audience hardly has to wonder what will be coming next, tension does rise on occasion especially at the end.

There a deliberate pace which pays handsome dividends, and there is a chance too for the poetry to assume its full significance.

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