Romeo and Juliet
As the prologue foretelling the deaths of the most iconic of lovers is spoken, we see them, statuesque in an embrace, their now reconciled families laying wreaths at their feet. With this opening, and the almost universal knowledge of how this story ends ever present, there’s no need to work up any sense of impending doom. So the first half is, enjoyably, full of laughs – enough to encourage a false sense of security. In the end, though, the poignancy of what comes is heightened by this demonstration of the fact that, in life, no-one’s preparing for tragedy when it happens to them.
Balancing Juliet’s tender age with her sudden and profound passion is a challenge for any production of Romeo and Juliet, and, while the chemistry between the pair here is believable, Juliet’s transition within an evening from scooter-riding kid to savvy lover – gabbling to Romeo about how she could play hard to get if he wanted her to, and how the moon is too unconstant an object to swear love by – is hard to swallow.
Get past this, though, and there’s plenty to enjoy here: in particular, Liam Brennan’s Capulet is by turns the smiling host and the raging tyrannical patriarch, and equally redoubtable as both. While the music can feel a little intrusive, the set is most fitting – it appears ravaged by the sheer force of hatred between the Montagues and Capulets – and the curiosity it inspires as to how on earth it will accommodate the The Importance of Being Earnest later this autumn is almost unbearable.
Royal Lyceum, Edinburgh, until Sat 16 Oct