Way back when Shakespeare's plays were originally performed at The Globe Theatre, men played women's parts. Now, in this modern day interpretation of Romeo and Juliet, women play men's parts in this all female production by Girl Gang Manchester.There has always been a bitter feud between the Montague and the Capulet family, it's continued for so long nobody knows the reason behind it. Lord Capulet explains to Count Paris he must not marry his daughter Juliet until she is old enough. Romeo and his friends receive the news that there will be a party at the Capulet house. They go, knowing they won't be identified wearing a mask. Amongst the lively atmosphere of dancing and socialising, a gentle and private moment of interaction occurs between Romeo and Juliet. They fall in love at sight, and so their tragic story takes off from there.
A plethora of concepts were investigated during the performance, as a result of the artistic decision to cast an all female cast. There was a comment on patriarchy in the theatre, in the past and perhaps now, with regard to the wealth of male parts, writers, and producers. You can then make a link to the representation of women on stage, determined by the male theatrical elite. The production challenged notions surrounding femininity by allowing the cast to perform activities usually associated with men: the actresses smoked, drank beer, and pigged out (so to speak) by eating a massive bag of crisps.The cast explored masculinity and femininity, and the performing of gender. This included the deconstruction of laddish behaviour, the male gaze, and men's rough perception of sexual intercourse. When the Nurse was referred to as an "ancient woman", what once was perhaps a comedic line, turned into an example of the insulting and belittling of women. The production really did make light of the sexist proverbs, idioms, and expressions littered in Shakespeare's play text. On the flip side, moments of humour could be found as a result of the all-female casting. There was a funny but brief metatheatrical moment where after the line, "draw if you be men", the cast just knowingly looked at the audience.
Romeo and Juliet were played by Emily Dowson and Amy Lesson, and there was an infectious and dynamic chemistry between them onstage. Interestingly, Juliet seemed to have the higher status over Romeo in this production. Both of them were charismatic and assured performers. I loved the characterisation of Maria Major's Nurse, who always repeated the same stories over and over again. Her comedic performance possessed warmth and heart.Kaitlin Howard, was the fight director, the fights were well choreographed and outstandingly executed by the cast. There was a playful look at the modern ways Shakespeare's lines could be spoken, however quite often some of the lines were delivered rather quickly, which affected articulation. For example, I felt Romeo and Juliet's shared sonnet was spoken a little too fast. Charlotte McAdam's prepossessing, hippie inspired design included multi-purpose platforms, hanging leaves, a flower printed chair and fairy lights. Although, the iconic balcony felt a little cramped into the corner of the room.
To conclude, this production allowed you to come to your own conclusions about the themes and issues surrounding the performance. Director, Kayleigh Hawkins, made sure to bring out the underlying passion and Feminist spirit of Girl Gang Manchester in the performance. It was a fresh interpretation of Romeo and Juliet.
Reviewer - Sam Lowe
on - 26/6/18
on - 26/6/18