We all know the ending of Romeo and Juliet; the tragic fate of the ‘star cross’d lovers’, lying dead in the Capulets’ tomb. But what happened after the dramatic events described by Shakespeare? Were the feuding Capulets and Montagues reconciled, or did the enmity continue to fester? Sharman Macdonald’s intriguing play takes up the character of Rosaline, Juliet’s cousin and Romeo’s original Capulet love interest, and attempts to provide some answers.
Director Hannah Crowe and Producer Danny Price opted for a minimalist stage setting on two levels, and sparing use of sound and lighting, ably coordinated by Tony Fennell and Ian Jones, all providing total focus on the acting abilities of an enthusiastic cast. Georgia Barrett was a suitably embittered and fiery Rosaline, raging against the Montagues but reserving her most caustic denunciations for the dead Juliet. Lauend Mahmud was a bemused Benvolio, as ever trying to keep the peace. Maria Collins was belligerent and combative as Valentine, whilst Louis Wright and Rosemary Alogba treated the audience to a highly effective comedic double act as Lorenzo and Gianni. Laurie Freeman was an indignant, conciliatory Petruchio, as the play moved towards its climax.
With the conflict seemingly unresolved, the audience was left to reflect on notions of love, violence and forgiveness; this well received production certainly challenged existing perspectives on the original Romeo and Juliet, in a thought provoking and stimulating way.