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Watermill - Romeo+Juliet

17th to 21st September 2013 and then on tour.

Review from the Newbury Weekly News.

Shakespeare revisited

Romeo+Juliet, at The Watermill, Bagnor, Tuesday, September 17 to Saturday, September 21, and then on tour. Reviewed at Park House School

The Watermill theatre is committed to providing quality outreach work reaching audiences from toddlers and their parents to schoolchildren and retired adults and is to be commended for this sterling work.

They are particular champions of making Shakespeare accessible to youngsters and this will be the third year that they have toured to schools.

Beth Flintoff has intelligently and skilfully adapted Romeo and Juliet. This engaging 75-minute production is stripped down to its bare essentials focusing on the relationship between the young star-crossed lovers.

What is particularly remarkable is that it is performed by only two actors who play most of the parts, and the poetry, passion and energy of this great love story is never lost.

There was a palpable buzz of excitement from the Year 10 students from Park House School as they entered the hall. The play is on the syllabus that they study for GCSE but they probably didn't expect this vibrant contemporary interpretation.

Director Clive Judd had set the play in a modern secondary school with Romeo and Juliet as students, and had inventively used such things as mobile phones to deliver messages from other characters and replace the letter that was sent to Romeo in Mantua.

The actors quickly built up a rapport with the young audience involving them in participating, with one youngster fully entering into the spirit of the play by helping to play Friar Laurence for a short scene.

There were many clever devices used such as super hero masks and hats or fleeces helping to identify characters. The key themes of the play slowly evolved and words to describe them were shrewdly written on a chalkboard.

Sophie Steer was superb as a fiery Juliet capturing the childhood innocence of the first kiss but yearning for the transition to adulthood. By contrast, the male characters she played were strong and dynamic and totally believable

As the love struck Romeo, Edward Hancock brought a spirited, potent energy to the part. His portrayal of the Scottish nurse was a delightfully funny characterisation.

Both actors had a captivating affinity with each other and the fight scenes were powerful and impressive.

The poignant ending was sensitively performed and both performers, who must have been exhausted, certainly deserved the enthusiastic applause from the young audience.