REVIEW: ROMEO & JULIE @ THE NATIONAL THEATRE
🎭 Romeo & Julie
📍 Dorfman Theatre, National Theatre, London, SE1 9PX
🗓 Saturday 25th March 2023
DIRTY NAPPY CROSSED LOVERS!
Saturday night saw my first ever visit to the National Theatre. Why has it taken me so long? I have seen National Theatre productions on tour and loved them so I was very excited to visit the venue itself.
Romeo & Julie is a new play by Gary Owen and stars Callum Scott Howells and Rosie Sheehy as the titular couple.
Set in a small Welsh community, Romeo is 18 and lives with his mum Barb in her flat. He is also the sole caregiver to his newborn baby Niamh when the mother rejected her after she was born. They live on the breadline and Romeo struggles with paternal duties and trying to provide for his daughter. He contemplates putting her up for adoption to give her a better life but can’t bring himself to let her go.
Production Image: Rosie Sheehy as Julie and Callum Scott Howells as Romeo
On top of all this, Barb refuses to offer any help as she’s already brought up her children and thinks Romeo made the wrong choice in his decision to take on full parental responsibility for Niamh. She is also an alcoholic which in itself brings a whole load of other issues to the table.
Julie is also 18 and is studying to get top grades at A-Level so that she can get into the prestigious Cambridge University. She lives with her dad Col and step-mother Kath, who have both worked hard and sacrificed a lot to be able to send her to the university she has dreamed of since she was 11.
A change meeting between Romeo and Julie reveals that although they only live a few streets away from each other, their backgrounds and lives are worlds apart from one another.
Production Image: Anita Reynolds, Catrin Aaron, Callum Scott Howells, Paul Brennen and Rosie Sheehy
The story follows the pair as their relationship blossoms and we see Julie prepared to give up her promising future to start a life and a family with Romeo, much to the disgust of her parents. When Julie becomes pregnant, her dad gives her an ultimatum. Get rid of the baby or get out of the house.
At times the story is very dark and it's also heartbreaking. The script by Gary Owen is outstanding and fells really fresh. When acted out by this magnificent company, the audience is treated to a real theatrical masterpiece.
Howells is absolutely captivating in his role as Romeo and you really feel every word and emotion throughout the entire play. He unashamedly gave his utter being to the part and at times I felt sick with emotion as his feelings transferred to me. I really felt the love that he had for both Julie and his daughter, and for me he delivered one of the most outstanding performances I have seen so far this year.
Sheehy is a sensation as Julie. She completely convinced me with her characterisation and I could feel the meaning behind each and every word she said. It's truly an honour to be able to witness such talent.
Production Image: Rosie Sheehy as Julie and Catrin Aaron as Barb
Catrin Aaron gave an extremely believable portrayal of Barb. Everything felt so real and her struggles with alcoholism were at times heart wrenching.
Paul Brennen as Col and Anita Reynolds as Kath were both fantastic in their roles. Even though they were seen less than the other characters, they were just as integral to the story as the others and they both gave strong performances.
The set itself was very basic, essentially just a bare stage with a table and two chairs and a few props, and that was it. What was important here was the storytelling and this was so strong that there was no need for a big complicated set. There were also some chairs at the rear of the stage which the actors sat in when they weren't performing.
The set was designed by Hayley Grindle who also designed the costumes. Married together with lighting by Jack Knowles and sublime direction by Rachel O'Riordan, Romeo & Julie is a breathtaking phenomenon.
Romeo & Julie finishes at the National Theatre this weekend so there's not long to grab yourself a ticket. Head to www.nationaltheatre.org.uk where there are still limited tickets available for certain performances. There are also a limited number of restricted view Day Tickets available from the Box Office in person at 10am each morning. Further details can be found on the National Theatre website.
All views are my own and I pride myself on being open, honest and free from influence.
Production Image: The full company remains on the stage throughout the performance
Callum Scott Howells as Romeo; Rosie Sheehy as Julie; Catrin Aaron as Barb; Paul Brennen as Col; Anita Reynolds as Kath
RUN TIME (approx):
2 hours 20 minutes, including interval
Bad language throughout; Depictions of alcoholism; Abortion
Production Image: Anita Reynolds as Kath and Paul Brennen as Col
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