Theatre's original lovers ; ROMEO AND JULIET Holme Pierrepont HallA lively, traditional take on Romeo And Juliet is coming to the grounds of Holme Pierrepont Hall. Erik Petersen learns more
YOU could make a strong case for Romeo And Juliet being the best- known play in western literature. Which might help explain why, when it gets new film or stage airings, it's often dressed up with a different historical era or an original conceit.
That is not, however, the Festival Players' way. The theatre company's gimmick is that there are no gimmicks.
The company, which bring its outdoor production to the grounds of Holme Pierrepont Hall next week, offers colourful and authentic Shakespearean costumes and a big, lively production done in the traditional manner.
We go for really clear storytelling, says the company's artistic director, Michael Dyer.
We do traditional costumed, which many companies today do not.
Lots of energy, lots of fun, but we try to keep it absolutely clear so that it will appeal to people of all ages.
In Shakespeare's day his works were, of course, massively popular and populist - the summer blockbusters of their time.
The Festival Players aim to go big and bring that same flair to the proceedings.
Why not have a bit of colour in Shakespeare? Michael asks. We've got some very exciting costumes which have been professionally done for us.
They've also got big fight scenes, music and critically for Michael, in Oliver Tucker and Alicia Bennett a Romeo and Juliet who can actually pass off as teenage lovers.
For me the credibility of the piece doesn't work if they look like they're 30 years of age - and they often do, he says, citing the classic 1932 movie as one where the leads are clearly much older than the characters they play.
Lovely as they were as actors, there's something lacking in credibility, he says, noting that in the play Juliet is 14 and Romeo about 16.
The hormone-charged plot, the colour, the fight scenes - Michael reckons it isn't hard to figure out why this is one of Shakespeare's most popular works with younger audiences. It is classified as a tragedy but it is also a passionate love story, but not in a sentimental way, he says.
Young people do relate to it. It's very fast paced.
Teenagers enjoy it - but with the fast-moving action and bright costumes, Michael says that younger children too often find much to watch and enjoy.
Young people do go for the story and the colour and the action, he says.
Once, at a different show, he watched a toddler stood on a mother's lap. The boy was too young to understand but still watched, rapt.
There was enough there to engage his attention.
In fact, Michael makes clear that parents bringing younger kids shouldn't feel the need to sit near the back or situate themselves in a position where they can make a quick exit.
Get them near the front where they can feel involved in the action, he says. The whole show's accessible to anybody who comes along.
He's aided that process - and nodded to the English weather. I've cut the play slightly, which going to come in at slightly under two hours, he says, which is quite enough to sit outside in this country.
Romeo And Juliet comes to the grounds of Holme Pierrepont Hall on Wednesday at 7.30pm. Tickets are Pounds 12.50, Pounds 9 concs and Pounds 8 for children 16 and younger. Bring a picnic and your own seating. Book in advance on thefestivalplayers.co.uk.
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