Friday, July 8, 2016

Romeo and Juliet - Afterward

Romeo and Juliet
Photograph: Johan Persson

I ran like crazy for the LRT, fearing I would be late for tonight's performance of Romeo and Juliet.  I wasn't worried about the seating for we never have a full theatre -- I don't know if it was the warm summer night that kept people at home, but there were just 10 patrons there. Still, a wonderful evening for Shakespeare fans.

Not to do too many spoilers, but here were the highlights for me:

1. I didn't know if I would like the performance, once I was sitting there and Branagh explained to the audience that he had used some artistic license, ie setting the play in the 1950's in the style of the Italian movies of that era, even to having this shot in black and white.  When I was young, if a movie was in colour, it cost a little more and I wasn't sure I wanted to return to the days when most film was black and white -- especially my beloved Westerns -- B-movies, but there was a new one every week.  That being said, Branagh set up the Queen Mab speech so beautifully that I was sorry when it ended.

2. And Branagh pointing out that Mercutio's part was done by a seasoned and well respected actor (Derek Jacobi) made me pay more attention to it than I have ever paid before.  Just beautiful, the declamation of some of the lines.

3. At times, when other speakers were delivering their lines, the camera was on the face of Romeo (Richard Madden).  I was entranced by the look on his face as he was listening to the lines of others.  I couldn't get enough of those shots.

4. The scene where Juliet's father rages, insisting that she marry Paris was chilling in its violence and physicality.

5. This is the first time that Juliet's nurse has come out of the limelight and into the spotlight for me.  Quite the bit of character acting!  Just loved her.

6. The staging was quite a delight -- the change of scene was always around pillars ascending or descending and suddenly we had different rooms or plazzas.  Interesting -- everything in black and white and the shades of grey around the pillars.

7. I only know Lily James as Rose in Downton Abbey.  Now I will remember her as Juliet, with some of the loveliest interpretations of those famous lines.  I was thinking about Duncan as I was watching the performance, since this production will be the one he will hold up as the original model for Romeo and Juliet.  I was wondering what a more traditional interpretation will feel like when he sees one.

 ... Oxford full brogue  spectator shoes ...
8. One of the reviews calls Jacobi's shoes, corespondent shoes. Whatever else there is to say about them, I echo Jacobi's words at the ends of many sentences:  boom-boom.

9.  And what about when Juliet gets the hiccoups, or is drinking on her balcony.  And when Romeo is bawling his guts out?  Oh boy!  I want to see how Duncan reacted to all of those details!



  1. I enjoy Shakespeare when I see it done a the Globe. However, you make it sound electric in the theatre. In High School, it was torture.

  2. Speaking of being young and seeing Shakespeare, I don't know how old I was, maybe 13, since it was 1953 when Julius Ceasar came out as a film. But I can remember the film vividly, even to where I was sitting in the Plaza Theatre. I would go to movies every Saturday, sometimes 2, when I was that age. I could catch the 1 pm showing, then run down the street to the 3 pm showing at another theatre and I would be home before 6 pm. I do not ever remember telling my parents where I was going, or when I would be home.

    On the occasion of seeing this film. I was more than electrified. A new world opened up for me. And no wonder! Look at the list of actors in that film: Marlon Brando as Mark Antony, James Mason as Brutus, John Gielgud as Cassius, and Louis Calhern as Julius Caesar.

    It wasn't Marlon Brando who got me hooked. It was James Mason with his "this was the noblest Roman of them all" speech.

    Like you, I was wondering if anyone who is young saw the new film, and liked it.

    I asked Rebecca about Duncan and Alex and she said Duncan has already seen 2 different versions of Romeo and Juliet -- one of them anime. O.K. That is pretty beyond me, thinking that kids just getting out of Grade IX are already familiar with these works.

    Now she didn't tell me if they thought it was tortuous. But if it is your third time around and there is no mass rebellion from the boys, they must be liking something about it, more than just the concession treats.

    Speaking of concession treats, I was tired and afraid I might nod off in the second half so I went to get a small popcorn: $5.25. And then the add-ons to the popcorn cost more.

    That was enough to wake me right up and I didn't need concession treats afterall.