The National Youth Theatre is a force to be reckoned with; this season alone they have four new productions, one of which we got to catch yesterday.
This youthful take of Romeo & Juliet (with the tag-line ‘sex, drugs and on the dole’) comes complete with bursts of live music and cockney accents. The opening line runs: ‘two households, both alike in dignity, in fair Camden Town where we lay our scene’, and the play follows in that vein; the warring households are rival stalls at the market, with the cast wearing denim, leather, cheap lace and gothic jewellery. Friar Lawrence is a Rastafarian with a spliff tucked behind his ear, Tybalt is a woman, and the Nurse, played by Abigail Rose, stole the stage with her fake-tanned, big-haired, histrionic rendition.
There’s only so much one can take of new adaptions though, and this one is slightly flat to the point where you vaguely look forward to the two of them topping themselves. Some pivotal lines were just glanced over (‘I am fortune's fool’ was said as one might say ‘oh it’s started to rain’) and there was a sense of trying to get through the play rather than take time to relish acting it. Still – every company needs this play in their repertoire, and this is a lively and fun interpretation.
Romeo & Juliet is running now at The Ambassador's Theatre in the West End, until 29 November, tickets £20 / £12. For more information visit the National Theatre website. Londonist saw this play on a complimentary press ticket.