Review: After Juliet by Sharman Macdonald
The lower school play this term was Macdonald’s clever sequel to Shakespeare’s classic tale of star-crossed lovers. In this modern, humid Verona the Capulet and Montague feud stews in the Mediterranean heat, as those left behind by the couple’s tragic loss tussle with the consequences. Jane Darby’s riveting production was simmering with all the violence and passion the play demands. A very committed group of Remove and Hundred students produced this piece in little over four weeks and it was delivered with great professionalism and focus.
From the outset we were greeted by a theatre transformed into a cross between a junk yard and children’s playground. Rusty metal objects, an old cooker and car tyres were mixed with swings, flowers and toy boxes. This was an immediate assault on the spectator and felt like walking into the aftermath of an apocalypse; the perfect setting for a city after a riot and on the cusp of war. The childhood innocence of the swing and climbing rope seemed far more threatening in this context and – rather like the thrashing snare drum and cymbals that punctuated the action – it demanded our attention.
This was a total ensemble piece of theatre. The characters remained on stage throughout observing the action, making the ground feel like it had ears. The lack of privacy this created gave the hushed, tense conversations a beautiful sense of pace and urgency. It would be wrong to single out any one performance here – this was a complete team effort. It is remarkable to witness a group of students take on such a challenging piece and face it head on. This production did not pull its punches; it whirled with all the energy and violence of youth, whilst never allowing us to forget the tragic consequences it can lead to.
Head of Drama