Amongst the ruins and debris from the aftermath of war, two households continue to fuel their hatred for each other, whilst young love blossoms between Romeo and Juliet (Tue 6 – Sat 10 Feb, 7.15pm and matinee Thu 8 Feb, 2pm).
South Hill Park interviews the cast and director of this timeless tale as a part of an exclusive behind-the-scenes.
Director of Macbeth (2017), Joe Malyan returns to re-imagine another Shakespearean classic. He talks about his vision for this modern interpretation: “Romeo and Juliet is set in the aftermath of a war, and follows the uprising of two families, fighting for dominance over the city. After much research, I decided that I wanted to explore the idea of setting Romeo and Juliet in a part of Europe that had undergone the terror and devastation of war in more recent times; one that younger people would be more familiar with. Most young people have to study World War Two at school, so this seemed like an ideal option. This will help to give the production an even darker, and grittier setting in which two people manage to find love in the midst of turmoil and destruction.
“As with Macbeth, the staging of this production will have a filmic feel, with George Jennings’ stunning original music underscoring the action.”
The cast includes Jack Fairey as Romeo who as a South Hill Park regular has performed in Peter Pan (2016), Macbeth (2017) and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (2017). In the role of Juliet is Laura Hannawin, most recognisable to Shakespeare fans as the doomed Lady Macbeth (2017).
Laura talks to us about taking on this iconic role: “Juliet is an amazing role to play and I am so excited! She is witty and intelligent but also completely follows her heart. I am most excited to explore the love that she and Romeo share. It’s one of the aspects of the story that people strive to achieve in their own lives, finding their ‘soul-mate’, and I wish to do it justice.”
Jack feels that the romance of the play is rooted in the tragic end for the protagonists: “right from the start, we know they’re never going to make it, because the whole world is against them. And yet, they try anyway […] They love despite the odds, despite the danger it puts them in, and as readers and watchers we respond to that. It’s something everyone wants, I think: to be loved even when loving is hard.”
Romeo and Juliet boasts a choral cast full of the best young talent that Bracknell and its surrounding areas have to offer. After talking to the young actors, it’s easy to see why they are so drawn to this filmic and very current interpretation of the Bard’s most enduring love story.
Amy, from Wokingham, comments that her school friends will find it easier to understand this Shakespearean tragedy on stage: “I think just seeing the set and costumes and how the actors perform helps to illustrate how the characters are feeling and helps young people understand the show”.
Marcus, from Bracknell, who made his debut at South Hill Park in Oliver! (2016), agrees with Amy that this production of Romeo and Juliet will be more accessible, as it is helped by “both the music, and the fact that it’s portrayed right in front of your eyes, so instead of just reading it and thinking really hard about it, you see what’s happening”.
Louis, from Wokingham, adds that he enjoys his time at South Hill Park as “it is so big and there’s room for anyone to come and try something new. I also like being around my friends.”
Katie, from Bracknell says “this production is very visual, thanks to the great set and the fight scenes. This production of Shakespeare is cut down very nicely to communicate the visuals, and it’s very accessible…the theatre at South Hill Park is quite snug and you can see everyone, which makes it very atmospheric”.
Join Jack, Laura and the rest of the cast at South Hill Park’s Wilde Theatre in Bracknell for the perfect pre-Valentine’s Day treat. Romeo and Juliet will be staged at South Hill Park from Tue 6 – Sat 10 Feb 2018.
For more information and tickets, click here.