A full-cast BBC Radio 3 production of Shakespeare’s quick-witted summer tragedy.
In a town full of hatred, where the streets ring with the Capulet-Montague feud,and swords are too easily drawn, Romeo and Juliet find each other--and love--and never let go.
In Shakespeare’s famous play, first performed in 1595, the warring Capulets and Montagues have been sworn to keep the peace on pain of death. When Capulet’s daughter, Juliet, meets Montague’s son, Romeo, at a masked ball, they immediately fall in love. With the help of Friar Lawrence and Juliet’s Nurse, the pair decide to marry in secret. Disaster strikes when Romeo is banished for murder,and flees after just one night with his new wife. Juliet, meanwhile, is betrothed against her wishes to Count Paris. Friar Lawrence intervenes to help, but tragedy is at hand…
Rising young stars Trystan Gravelle and Vanessa Kirby play the star-crossed lovers, with David Tennant as Prince Escalus, Rosie Cavaliero as the Nurse, and Ron Cook as Friar Lawrence.
©2015 BBC Worldwide (P)2015 BBC Worldwide
This appears to be another entry in the same BBC series as "Hamlet" with Jamie Parker. The cast is largely unfamiliar (to me), apart from Ron Cook and David Tennant. But they all perform with gusto, and with its first-rate production values and music, it is one of the most riveting productions of the play I've heard.
Like the production of "Hamlet," there's one textual oddity to take note of. Most of the cuts are minor, but one significant scene was cut, and apart from time constraints, I can't figure out why. The scene with Peter and his list of guests to invite is missing. It's not a big scene, granted; it's only there to help connect the dots. It explains how Romeo and his friends learned about Capulet's ball and decided to attend. Without the scene, their arrival at the ball seems a bit disjointed.
But that's the only false note. Romeo and Juliet are especially affecting in this production, and the fight scenes are brief and brutal. David Tennant plays a subdued Prince Escalus, and Ron Cook a sad and reflective Friar Lawrence.
Even with the missing scene, this is an outstanding production and well worth a listen.
I think I liked the performance of the Nurse best. She injected humour into the drama and I found it believable that she had Juliet's best intentions at heart even when she tried to convince Juliet that, once Romeo was banished, Paris seemed like a more logical match. The cruelty of Juliet's parents was palpable, but I'm not sure whether this was more the Bard's doing or the actors' performances. Juliet and Romeo did the whole angsty teenager bits quite well--Juliet perhaps more so. Romeo's friends were relatable and recognisable as the average lads and mates of today. I would recommend this to anyone who has read the text as some references may be a bit indecipherable if you hear them for the first time. Other than that, the gist of the dialogues isn't too hard to follow.
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