An exercise in how to trim sentiment from Shakespeare's tragedy
Why is Romeo constantly galavanting about on stage and arching his body backwards when delivering lines to the audience as well as to his fellow actors? Maybe it's a director's choice rather than Aidtonewa Edun's to keep skipping backwards and overact so that we can't believe most of his dialogue. The nurse, who is traditionally a scene-stealing comic is portrayed here as an annoyingly talkative humourless person with all the funny stuff transferred to her side kick, Peter. He delivers everything with a boisterously dumb comedic style more suited to a kid's pantomine. Amazingly some actors emerge through this production with some semblance of authenticity: Ukweli Roach - a very intense Tybalt, Philip Cumbus - a very likeable Mercutio (whose exit is unfortunately bland),and Ellie Kendrick who gives us a Juliet to genuinely care about. Without her this ship would have well and truly sunk. I purchased the DVD after seeing some great YouTube clips of other Globe Shakespeare productions but was sadly disappointed with this version of WS's masterpiece.
Reviewed by TheLittleSongbird5 / 10
Where art thou excellence Romeo?
'Romeo and Juliet' is one of William Shakespeare's, one of the greatest and most important playwrights that ever lived, most famous plays and also one of my favourites of his and overall. It is such a lovely, powerful story, that is the quintessential depiction of passionate love descending into tragedy perhaps, chock-full of iconic lines and speeches and characters hard to forget. The Shakespeare Globe is one of the best companies when it comes to Shakespeare productions.
The company did many fine productions of Shakespeare plays available on DVD, as far as the filmed Shakespeare productions from this time period go both parts of 'Henry IV' were particularly great. Their version of 'Romeo and Juliet' is sadly not one of their finest hours. It is a long way from being a bad production, there are things that it does well, it just felt rather uneven and came over as on the bland and tried too hard side.
Good and bad things are fairly equal. The costumes and sets are truly lovely to look at and done in good taste. Also liked the intimacy of the photography, though it does succeed in opening up the action enough without being overblown. The audience reactions were interesting and like being transported to Shakespeare's time. Some of the staging is great, such as the ballroom scene, the tense fight and the moving tomb scene. Shakespeare's dialogue is fantastic and justifiably iconic.
Some good performances here. In support, Ukweli Roach's menacingly antagonistic Tybalt, Phillip Cumbus' spirited and loyal Mercutio, Ian Redford's authoritative but not too brutish Capulet and Rawiri Paratene's sympathetic Friar Lawrence stand out. The best performance comes from Ellie Kendrick, who provides a Juliet that one really cares for and she goes from youthfulness and innocence to burning mature passion very believably.
Was a lot less keen on the Romeo of Adetomiwa Edun, he came over as too physical and while he has the youthfulness right he tries far too hard. The usually scene stealing nurse is here made annoying and too nosy neighbour-like by Penny Layden, while Fergal McElherron is overused and is more obnoxious than funny (his presence distracts too). The comedy generally falls flat from being very overdone.
Did feel too that the central chemistry was too lacking in sensual passion, the balcony scene lacking allure, and could have had more growth. Found it rather bland. The pace is too hectic in spots and could have done with a slowing down and less is more approach. It is a case of having everything there surface level but not having enough substance. The Globe setting also feels too big for the drama and swamps it occasionally in the bigger moments, like doing baroque opera at the Metropolitan Opera.
Overall, watchable but not great and rather inconsistent. 5/10.