Wednesday 13th – Sunday 24th July 2005
Charles Hutchinson in the The Yorkshire Evening Press wrote:
THE Nurse on the pink scooter had to go – that old enemy called insurance put paid to that idea – but Sarah Punshon’s revitalisation of Romeo And Juliet is still a fifties freshener to rival a Knickerbocker Glory.
Punshon is a hot catch for York Shakespeare Project: the Cambridge graduate has just spent 18 months at the West Yorkshire Playhouse as resident trainee director.
York Shakespeare Project had already secured permission to stage Romeo And Juliet on RowntreePark’s band stand, when fifties movie fan Punshon suggested a post-war setting of 1950s small-town Italy to add to the outdoor frisson.
“The chance to see my cast in full skirts and quiffs seemed too good to pass up,” she says.
West Side Story has passed this way before, but Punshon brings her own vision to Shakespeare’s play through audacious casting and bravura performances, and a design spec closer to William Wyler’s multi-coloured Roman Holiday than Fellini minimalism.
In her view, Romeo And Juliet is a comedy that quickly and irrevocably goes wrong, and the play’s early scenes reflect that philosophy.
Howard Spencer-Mosley, more often to be spotted as a stand-up comedian with an anarchic twinkle, brings a new physicality to Romeo; he is still poetic, with pencil and pad, but he flicks his fingers, cups his hands, spins around in ballet movement and flares into sudden violence. His ever- expressive eyes, however, are still the key to his shifting thoughts.
Katie Martin, a YorkSt John’sCollege student from Billingham, is a more distilled performer. Where the virtuoso Spencer-Mosley goes up and down the scales, she focuses more on the words than movement, and her north- eastern accent is a lovely instrument to hear (in the manner of Northern Broadsides’ Shakespeare shows).
The most radical casting choice is Cecily Boys, an ironic surname for a woman in the traditionally male role of Mercutio. The switch from boy to Boys works to the good: she is a comic dynamo, Queen Mab’s speech takes on an even tangier sauciness, and the fiery Tybalt’s deep-rooted hatred of the Montagues now sees no boundary between man or woman for murderous assault.
Ben Fogarty, as shaven nutter Tybalt, is another find, while real-life nurse Pauline Redman plays the Nurse to the manner born.
York Shakespeare Project has taken a big stride forward in the open air: now keep adding new faces and performing in different places.
See also: The British Theatre Guide review by Peter Lathan.
|Lord Montague||Harold Mozley|
|Lady Mntague||Val Parker|
|Lord Capulet||Ged Murray|
|Lady Capulet||Ali Borthwick|
|Prince Escalus||Jeremy Muldowney|
|Friar Lawrence||Kingsley G Hoffman|
|Apothecary/Prince’s Retainer||Fran Tomlin|
|Anthony/Paris’ Page||Emily Graham|
|Prince’s Retainer||Krupa Rajangam|
|Chief Watchman||Simon Trow|
|Assistant Director||Antonio Ferrara|
|Fight Director||Paul Toy|
|Set Designer||Krupa Rajangam|
|Costume Designer||Val Parker|
|Stage Manager||Neil Millar|
|Deputy Stage Manager||Jez Scott|
|Assistant Stage manager||Ben Walden|
|Set Builder||Luke Dane|
|Costume Makers||Sally Exley, Claire Gilham|
|Drapes Maker||Marjorie Sharpe|
|Publicity, Posters, and Programme||Ray Alexander|
|Front of House||Ray Baggaley, Chris Rawson|