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Romeo & Juliet

May 21st - May 25th

 

Flabbergast Theatre return to Malvern for the third time in 10 months with their award-winning approach to the classics. They bring a fresh and innovative outlook, embracing physicality whilst celebrating the verse and bringing musicality and simplicity to the storytelling.

This is a tragedy encompassing laughter and tears, beautiful poetry, bawdy jokes and some impressive swashbuckling to boot, expect live music, clowning, mask work and a thoroughly enjoyable evening.

★★★★★ “Every perfectly constructed, tightly choreographed moment in the play is explored for maximum impact and clarity of purpose….” British Theatre Guide

★★★★ “Shakespeare’s words wrung into new shapes … captivating” The Telegraph

★★★★★ “Captures the essence of the piece more eloquently than pretty much any other production I’ve seen.”  Bouquets and Brickbats

★★★★ “The chemistry between the cast was palpable … Flabbergast Theatre stayed loyal to a classic but approached it in a refreshing and visually beautiful way” Voice Mag

★★★★ “It looks beautiful…A pleasure to watch.” Mumble

Running time: 2 hours 50 minutes (including interval)

Details

Start:
May 21st
End:
May 25th
Event Categories:
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Venue

Festival Theatre
Grange Road
Malvern, WR14 3HB

Other

Price:
Eves: £25.20, £22.96, £20.72, £18.48 & £16.24
Mats: £20.72, £18.48, £16.24, £14 & £11.76
£2 concessions over 60s /unwaged
Under 26s £8.96
Members discounts apply
Price includes 12% booking fee
Show Times:
Tuesday 21st to Saturday 25th May Evenings at 7.30pm
Wednesday & Saturday Matinees at 2.30pm

Event Reviews

  • The View from the Stalls

    Romeo and Juliet as you have never seen them before.

    Flabbergast Theatre have become regulars at Malvern Theatres with recent productions of Macbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, both performed in their own unique offbeat style. Their third production is possibly the Bard’s most enduring work – Romeo and Juliet.

    Oddly, for this production, there was no programme available, no cast list or bios and, even more bizarrely, no mention of it at all on the company’s website either. A little bit of digging indicates that Lennie Longworth plays the diminutive cropped-haired Juliet whilst Kyll Anthony Thomas Cole is her doomed dreadlocked beau Romeo. There are in fact eight actors in the show which begins, in typical Flabbergast fashion, before the show kicks off with them all already on stage, identically dressed and wearing half-masks, performing various fighting scenes.

    There is minimal scenery – in fact, no scenery at all really as all there is on stage is a large 3-level scaffolding which is used in various scenes. There is, however, music and singing, plenty of well-choreographed sword fighting and the expected dramatic conclusion as the two “star-crossed lovers” meet their fate. The actors wear largely the same costumes throughout with only the nurse having her own bespoke dress which certainly stands out.

    This style of production won’t be to everyone’s taste, leaving a lot to the imagination during its 2 hours 30 minutes (excluding interval) and certainly if you do not know the story already, you might well be floundering with the narrative, wondering what exactly is going on and who is who within the two warring houses so at least read a synopsis first…

    There is no doubt that Flabbergast enjoy pushing the limits to how traditional plays are presented and this is another example of taking a new approach whilst keeping the story intact.

  • Showtime! - John Phillpott

    THIS being Flabbergast Theatre, there’s no defined actual start of the show.

    From about 7.15pm onwards, the audience starts to file in, and already, the actors are… well, seemingly doing their own thing.

    There’s lots of leaping around, pulling faces, wearing masks, pretend fighting, that sort of thing. Got the picture?

    Hey, Mr Reviewer Man. Loosen up a bit. This is circus skills in action. Have you never found yourself in the main square of a European town or city? Bet you haven’t. How laughably provincial.

    All right. This warm-up session is presumably setting the scene for some serious gangland warfare in downtown Verona. Two rival cartels, the Capulets and Montagues, are duking it out over who controls the ’hood.

    That’s as fine as it goes. But wait a minute. This is supposed to be a tale of a mutual love so intense that nothing is too great to sacrifice in its name. Yet we get no hint of that in these crucial opening stages.

    And that’s my main quibble, because although the actor playing Juliet takes the role and wrings it bone dry of every tear and choke in the throat, the same cannot be said of the person who for some unfathomable reason is the object and recipient of her affections.

    Sorry to say, Juliet’s main squeeze turns in a consistently wooden performance. We need to be convinced that this is the greatest love story ever told. It never happens. Wherefore art thou, Romeo? Why indeed.

    That said, Flabbergast’s take on William Shakespeare’s time-honoured tale of doomed love does have some memorable moments. But before we get into that, at this stage of the proceedings, I’m obliged to ask this question.

    Why were no programmes available? Their absence means that we cannot put names to the players, study the list of creatives, look at the rehearsal pictures, and read up about the history of the play and its immortal creator. Is there some agenda at work here – or is it just down to cost?

    Ah, I hear you say. You can look all this up on the internet. Actually, er no. For subsequent to something going online, there could be role changes, an actor might drop out for any reason, someone might get a nick from a bit of extra-curricular swordplay, and so on.

    For me, and no doubt many other people, the programme is a vital part of the night out. At the very least, it’s something to savour during the interval.

    Nevertheless, this production does have some very strong points in the form of a truly mercurial Mercutio, a gobby Tudor era sword-slinger who will soon find himself harpooned like a chipolata sausage on a cocktail stick. That’ll teach him for shooting his mouth off so eloquently.

    Of course, Mercutio’s nemesis Tybalt soon meets his karmic comeuppance in a stunningly dramatic scene, courtesy of an electrically vengeful Romeo, who by now has found his true vocation as that of a fighter rather than a lover.

    In fact, the action scenes rescue the show, which is a welcome bonus as much of the Bard’s glorious language finds itself lost in a morass of mumbled lines and poor voice projection.

    Talking of scripts, the classic ‘parting is such sweet sorrow’ is spoken twice by Juliet. Why? I know it’s a ringing line, but do we really need to be reminded?

    Elsewhere, the play’s only comic character bounces about in the form of the nurse, clad in what appears to be a large white tent, looking for all the world like a lost fairy in search of particularly robust Christmas tree.

    This works well, bringing a little light and shade to what is, after all, a tragic tale in which there are no winners.

    Thankfully though, it is the portrayal of periodic outbursts of period violence that rescue this production from an over-indulgence in street theatre technique. But this alone cannot make up for the stark absence of chemistry between the star-crossed pair, which tends to permeate everything.

    The facts of the matter are that an effervescent Juliet’s plainly up for it, shouting her enthusiasm loudly from that balcony, her at times shrill delivery charged with the eternal magic of Shakespeare’s words.

    But unfortunately, her unbridled passion does not meet with its like-for-like equivalent, and that perhaps is the real tragedy of this Romeo and Juliet.

  • Fairy Powered Productions - Courie Amado Juneau

    William Shakespeare. The very name rings down through history like a massive bronze gong. And then there is (arguably) his most famous work: Romeo and Juliet. We have all seen a version of this play, whether on stage or screen and so we believe we know the work intimately. Well, not this version…

    Entering the auditorium it was immediately apparent that this was to be no ordinary reading. The stage was fully populated with all the actors in the production – 8 in all, 4 men and 4 ladies. All were masked and wearing the same sumptuous costume of black trousers, Dr Marten style boots and a sleeveless richly embroidered and coloured over-buttoned waistcoat. The atmospheric austerity of the stage with a three tiered platform and large white drapes hanging off a scaffold structure, lit starkly by brilliant white light, gave a mysterious air.

    Unfortunately there was no programme available. I’m not sure if this was a deliberate thing – I.e. an attempt to not single out any person and to highlight a company ensemble ethos – but it does make reviewing rather difficult. With that in mind…

    Our leads, Romeo and Juliet were both rather fine, bringing much raw emotion especially in the final death scenes. The love “dance” was also highly effective, with a charming sensuousness and believability.

    Of the other characters, I particularly enjoyed Juliet’s mother as she conveyed convincing authority alongside some passionately wrought acting especially the anger that she unleashed at Juliette’s stubbornness over marrying Paris and when discovering her daughter dead. The nurse was another standout performance – eliciting most of the laughs of the piece.

    Overall I found the production a bit of a tricky watch, with so much motion on the part of the players (they rarely stood still) it was like watching modern dance with dialogue and was at times a little distracting. Audibility of the dialogue was another issue, especially when actors were leaping between metal platforms and the landing obliterated all other sounds. On the plus side, such physicality did mean the fight scenes packed a menacing punch.

    There was a fair amount of singing and it was done rather well and to great effect at key moments. I was, however, longing to know what they were singing (it being in Italian) as I’m sure the music was carefully chosen with a purpose in mind. Again, a programme to read at interval would have given some welcome insight. The highlight of the music for me was Juliet’s solo as a backdrop for Romeo’s final angst ridden visit to the Friar.

    There are many I’m sure who will love this stylized account of this classic tragedy. It appeared as faithful to the original source material in script as it was innovative in its thoroughly modern staging. It didn’t quite do it for me in that latter regard, although I did come away with an appreciation of the staggering effort the actors had gone through to put it on; so there was much to enjoy (even for a Shakespearean philistine like me). If you like your Bard brought thoroughly up to date with muscular direction and full blooded commitment from those on stage then this will give you much pleasure.


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