More years ago than I care to think about, Romeo and Juliet was the Shakespeare set work in my matric year. So I have always had a soft spot for this play, combined with the fact that, along with almost all the girls in my class, I was wildly and passionately in love (from a distance much further than a simple balcony) with the boy who played Romeo in a combined school production. But this is an aside, because the combination of Shakespeare and Abrahamse and Meyer Productions, is in itself a complete winner. I have seen all 3 previous productions from the Abrahamse and Meyer “stable”: Richard III in 2011 in which 3 actors played all roles; Hamlet in 2017 with 6 actors playing multiple roles; and Macbeth in 2018 also with 6 actors playing all the characters. I am certainly not going to miss this production.
As with the previous 3 productions, any conventional rendering will be turned on its head in Joe Calarco’s Shakespeare’s R & J. The two-liner summarizes it: “A school, four boys, a smuggled copy of Romeo and Juliet and a secret enactment – what more could you ask for?”
The play stars Dean Balie, Jeremy Richard, Matthew Baldwin and Tailyn Ramsamy. All four of these actors have worked with Abrahamse and Meyer Productions and so are very experienced at playing multiple characters, morphing miraculously with the help of creative costume changes, masks, and sometime puppets. In Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer’s Macbeth Jeremy Richard played the Second Witch, Donalbain, a Porter and a Murderer; Matthew Baldwin switched between the First Witch, Malcolm, a Murderer and Ross; and Tailyn Ramsamy played both Banquo and Lady Macduff. While in Hamlet Polonius and Horatio were both played by Dean Balie. There will certainly be the usual creative spark with a stunning mise-en-scene, clever lighting and innovative stage set.
Shakespeare’s R&J opens tonight, 21st August and runs until the 8th September at Pieter Toerien Main Theatre, Montecasino. Shows are on Wednesdays & Thursdays at 11:00 and 15:00; Fridays at 20:00; Saturdays at 16:00 and 20:00; Sundays at 15:00