TWO star-crossed lovers, both alike in dignity in far Verona where our scene was laid. Audiences are braced for a Shakespearean masterclass as a modern day retelling of the theatrical classic Romeo and Juliet takes to the stage at Belfast’s Lyric Theatre.
Whilst staying true to the language of Shakespeare, Dr Anne Bailie’s contemporary retelling catapults the audience into Verona summer of 2022 where in the world of Italian high fashion, Lady Montague and Lady Capulet are propelled to the forefront as the leading designers for two rival fashion houses
Romeo Montague is completely obsessed with Rosaline, but his love is unrequited. At a party, he falls head-over-heels in love with the hosts’ daughter, Juliet Capulet.
This time, his love is reciprocated. But their love-story isn’t easy. Their families are arch-rivals in the city of Verona and if their relationship is to flourish, secrecy is vital. But the odds are stacked against them, and the pair embark on a journey which ends in consequences far beyond their worst fears.
Directed by Philip Crawford, this production sees the lead roles of Romeo and Juliet portrayed by Adam Gillian and Emma Dougan whose on-stage chemistry brings a sense of alchemy to the production.
In designing the set, Robin Peoples has perfectly encapsulated a sense of the Italian Renaissance which is paired with the vivacity of contemporary Italian life to give way to this modern day reimagining.
Audiences are greeted by on-stage digital billboard displaying ads for the Italian classic – Aperol Spritz, Vouge, GQ Italia and even the odd Burger King advert.
This, paired with the stunningly designed costumes by Gillian Lennox which wouldn’t look out of place in the window of any major Italian designer, gives way to a truly remarkable contemporary take on this production.
Casting Director Clare Gault has truly outdone herself and whilst it would be wrong to single out any one actor from this company for praise, Gillian and Dougan work well together, with their characterisation of the leading roles leaving the audience captivated.
The audience laughter also demonstrated an approval of Laura Hughes who plays Juliet’s Nurse. With a southern Irish accent, one can only imagine how this grandmotherly figure would go down with the Italian nonnas.
This production of Romeo and Juliet marks the Lyric Theatre’s 25th Shakespeare production on Ridgeway Street. Their very first ever Shakespeare production took place back in 1959, with Romeo and Juliet, in the grounds of the home of their founder, Mary O’Malley. Had Mary been alive today I'm sure she would have been blown away by this production.
Romeo and Juliet runs at the Lyric Theatre until 5 March. Tickets are priced from £12 and are available from the Lyric box office.