Show review by Julia Pattison: Romeo and Juliet at York Theatre Royal

Comedy: Romeo and Juliet

Friday, 28th May 2021, 7:59 am
Full of the joys of Commedia, with lashings of slapstick, this production shone like the sun breaking through on a rainy day. Photo: Rah Petherbridge

Venue: York Theatre Royal

Review by: Julia Pattison

On an evening when, like so many others recently, it was pouring with rain, this reviewer (along with the cast and other members of the audience no doubt) was most relieved to be watching this comedy indoors, warm, snug and dry.

Comedy? I hear you thinking? Has this lady lost her marbles in Lockdown? Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare’s famous tragedies isn’t it?

This troupe of cycling actors (Paul Moss, Lucy Green and Tom Dixon) masterfully produced an hilarious version of Romeo and Juliet which lived up to its promise of “music, mayhem and more costume changes than you can Shake a Spear (e) at”.

Living together in Lockdown this talented trio had plenty of time to let loose their creativity, and came up with inspired improvisation, particularly with the roles of Friar Lawrence, Friar John, and Juliet’s Nurse (loved the wiggle).

Normally, all sets, costumes and props are transported to various venues (usually outdoors) by the cast on their bikes.

The set consisted of a simple stand from which hung rainbow coloured strips of material, through which we had occasional tantalising glimpses of backstage.

Colourful bunting decorated the York Theatre Royal stage.

Simple worked well, with the energy and enthusiasm of the actors coming across loud and clear, making good use of the space on stage; they looked to be having the time of their lives, and included us in the sense of fun and mischief. Highlights were the manic character swaps, particularly involving Friar Lawrence and Friar John, seeing teenage Juliet’s (Lucy Green) mood swings, one minute love struck, the next exploding into teenage tantrums, and inspirational use of bicycle props.

Respect to the cast for delivering classic text while acting the fool, and with lots of distractions around too (ie Holy Water squirting!); no mean feat.

Catchy songs accompanied by ukulele, with beautiful harmonies, and even tap dancing demonstrated how versatile this trio were.

I was very impressed, having seen many serious versions of Romeo and Juliet, how well HandleBards stuck to the plot, but picked out humour where you least expected it; physical theatre combined with silly props (look out for that balcony!) went down very well with all ages in the audience.

Full of the joys of Commedia, with lashings of slapstick, this production shone like the sun breaking through on a rainy day (the Sun really did get his moment to shine).