To quote William Shakespeare “All the world is a stage…” a quote which is bandied about often in theatre circles. During this pandemic, with theatres closed companies such as Creation Theatre have embodied this quote, making theatre which has not only been created in small spaces and bedrooms of performers but which has been accessible to a world wide viewer. I rejoice for (some) theatres opening in the UK this week and await a date for NI Theatres to do the same but I will not be turning my back on online theatre forever. I feel it is an opportunity for theatre to reach new audiences and to grow and learn. I for one have enjoyed my visits online to theatres which I normally wouldn’t be able to visit and have enjoyed exploring the escapism which can be found through a few clicks on my laptop.
Creation Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet is another production adapted for zoom theatre by the company (who have filled my screen throughout this year), with a mix of live theatre, recorded monologues and interactive choose -your-own adventure it’s a heady mix of elements, some which work and some which were in my personal opinion lacking but maybe that had something to do with the pathway I chose?
However overall I found the live performance engaging with the characters starring down the camera straight into the audiences eye from the very beginning. From aggressively biting thy thumb and showing their teeth to kissing and canoodling and being altogether over familiar when we had just met (haven’t they heard of social distancing) a nice directional decision which almost embeds the audience into the streets of Verona from their living room sofa. The visualisation of sides, death, love and peace through the use of colour or lack of colour is also a strong directional decision which should be applauded along side the uniting and dividing costumes.
With good camera angles and faded shots we are able to have the cast together and interacting in one room, which is impressive without Covid tests and bubbles. The famous balcony scene for instance is created with two shots of Juliet (face on and from Romeos POV below) and allows the audience to see the two-crossed lovers stare deeply into each others eyes as they recount their undying love, which would normally not happen in this scene. As for our two leads; Romeo played by Kofi Dennis is quick to anger, engaging and could light up a room with his smile, his passion for the character jumps of the screen. Annabelle Terry who play’s Juliet gives the character youthful innocence with a doe-eyed execution and her chemistry with Katy Stephens who plays the nurse maid is fun, light heart-ed and endearing. Clare Humphrey’s Sister Laurence is confident and powerful as to is Dharmesh Patels, Mercutio who’s Queen Mab speech is the cherry on the top of these beautiful performances. The ensemble and supporting cast paint the scene energetically and masterfully and lead us quite quickly through a heavy text but I do feel further edits could have been made and unfortunately for me the emotion behind the two lovers deaths scene seems to be have be lost on screen, perhaps this element could have been live as well or maybe it just needed an audience reaction, a gasp, a sigh, a tear?
Overall I would recommend this production to those who are studying the text or those who are on the fence about how zoom can be used to produce interactive theatre but with a few little tweaks I think it could evoke a spirited round of a applause and the tears which this Shakespearean tragedy rightly deserves.
Emer D xx
Find out more about Romeo and Juliet by Creation Theatre here