Falling In Love With Romeo and Juliet
On February 13th, Metcalfe Gordon Productions presented their debut production, a film adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, just in time for Valentine’s Day.
This stunning piece was led by director Nick Evans, and stars Sam Tutty and Emily Redpath as the titular star-crossed lovers. The piece was edited by Ryan Metcalfe and features the creative genius of Natasha Bowles (Costume Design), Jamie Osbourne (Production Design), Elliot Smith (Lighting Design), and Olly Steel (Sound Design).
Shakespeare’s famous tale of star-crossed lovers, Romeo and Juliet tells the tale of two feuding families, and their children who fall in love despite it all. The play follows Romeo and Juliet through the magic of first love as they chase their happily ever after all the way to their tragic ending.
This adaptation of Romeo and Juliet takes place in post-apocalyptic world, “With cities abandoned and theatres no longer in use... wealthy families, urban gangs, and the last few urban dwellers have made their homes in the once great theatres of the city.”
This is why I love Shakespeare. These stories work in many settings, and most of the time modernization enriches the story and makes it more accessible. This adaptation is a wonderful example of that.
When set as a period piece, the time constraints of the era can “hide” the story from most viewers, who may be already struggling with the language. Using a modern setting automatically makes it more accessible to audience members. Letting these characters exist in our world makes the emotions they’re feeling easier to access, understand and process.
The modernization also brings forth one of my favourite things about this adaptation: it’s a fresh take. Most of us know how Romeo and Juliet ends, even without seeing or reading the play, but throughout the film, I was on the edge of my seat waiting to see what would happen next!
There were so many little modernizations added into the piece. The use of costuming, music, dance, and even texting and email were lovely touches that filled their world.
A personal favourite was adapting the Masked Ball into a masked ball with literal cloth facemasks, making this future setting not-so-distant. It was a clever nod to the world we all live in now, and I loved the added layer.
If you haven’t already guessed, this is going to be a lovefest.
Setting this show inside a theatre and choosing to make it a site-specific piece beautifully merges the worlds of stage and screen. This show used various settings inside the theatre such as the stage, the house, the lobbies, the boxes, and even the dressing rooms! It was a lovely tribute to these incredible buildings which have stood empty for the better part of a year.
I have recently learned that the entire show was filmed on green screen, then edited into a CGI replica of the gorgeous Manchester Palace Theatre.
I was VERY surprised by this, and I wanted to share because it truly demonstrates the effort made by the team to make something new.
I am still blown away by the attention to detail in creating these scenes digitally, and everyone involved in editing and creating this project has done a fantastic job.
I loved every second of this innovative modern take on a classic, and think it would work incredibly well as an immersive-theatre piece in a post-COVID world.
Romeo and Juliet is a Shakespearean tragedy, but at its core, it’s about young love, and I love that this adaptation places that above all of the angst that comes with being star crossed lovers.
Sam Tutty and Emily Redpath have a beautiful chemistry together, and their performances keep the innocence and joy of first love at the forefront, without letting it get lost within the high stakes plot. The two share a genuine connection which leaps off the screen and invests everyone watching in their story. One of my favourite scenes is between the two of them on the roof top, as it showcases their talent, connection, and the gorgeous cinematography.
I have never enjoyed a Romeo more than Sam Tutty. He’s brilliant in this role, and plays out all the contradictions of first love. The softness and the exuberance are balanced well in his performance, and his earnestness shines through in every scene.
Emily Redpath is not your archetypal Juliet. Her take on this ingenue highlights the strength Juliet has and which is often downplayed or ignored. It perfectly showcases the complexity of female characters, even in Shakespeare, and I love that she showed that women can be innocent and strong. I also adored all of Juliet’s costuming and Natasha Bowles’ choice to put Juliet in jeans was pure brilliance.
This entire production was incredibly well cast and features wonderful actors who understand the heightened language and have a genuine connection to the text.
A few of my favourite performances include Brandon Bassir as Mercutio, Vinta Morgan as Friar, Lucy Tregear as Nurse, and Helen Anker as Capulet.
I have a lot of favourite moments within this piece, but I loved that the actors still got to take their bows at the end of the show. With the virtual world, it’s so easy to roll credits with names on screen like the end of a film. This choice by the team to have the cast bow onstage, even to an empty house, was not only a beautiful moment to celebrate those involved, as well as a brilliant salute to theatre
Romeo and Juliet was everything I wanted and more.
This adaptation is presented in a highly creative and accessible way, making it enjoyable for everyone, regardless of their connection to Shakespeare. I would definitely recommend getting a ticket to this beautiful piece of theatre!
Romeo and Juliet is now streaming through the 27th of February!
You can find more information, as well as where to purchase tickets at https://www.romeojuliet2021.com .