Fashion feud shake up for Shakespeare in the park
Fast-paced with slick choreography, kick-ass music and some great comedy moments.
Those weren’t really the words I expected to use when describing the Port Elizabeth Shakespearean Festival’s production of Romeo and Juliet — but there you have it.
Director Lesley Barnard, along with choreographer Bennie Gerber, has done a slap-up job of infusing the Bard’s most famous tragedy with a great deal of energy and spunk.
With a modern twist — the Capulet’s and Montague’s are members of rival fashion houses — Barnard has also coaxed excellent comedic performances from Tarryn Light as Nurse and Jaydee Mulder as Mercutio — the stand out actors of the show.
Light, with her exaggerated Italian accent, energetic performance and command of the stage ensures the show does not lack in pace, while raising many a laugh.
Mulder does the same — he is over-the-top (in a good way), exuding energy.
He puts in a witty performance and his lines flow in a way that one never has to struggle through the Shakespearean lingo.
Daniel Hamilton as Romeo pours his heart out in the performance with his projection on point and bringing some real emotion to the central character.
As an actor, he is growing from show to show.
His counterpart, Gemma Barnard, puts in a solid performance but could perhaps add a little more softness to the character.
Theatre stalwarts Leslie Speyers as Lord Capulet, Vanessa Grebe as Lady Capulet and Brett Adkins as Friar Laurence add gravitas to the production, with Grebe particularly good as the grieving Lady Capulet.
Kerry-Lee Allen, in a gender-bending portrayal of the Prince, puts in a commanding performance.
She is a strong performer and her character — as it should — demands respect.
There is a lot to love about the costumes and make up when it comes to this production.
The Capulet house is filled with women whose hair is bright pink, while the house of Montague sports blue-haired beauties and the costumes — think funky corsets, heels and skinny jeans — have been carefully co-ordinated.
The ensemble cast add greatly to the show as it is them who do most of the dancing and fill the smaller yet still important roles.
For the most part, they are young yet they have confidence and charisma.
There is also something magical about open-air production despite the challenges they present — mosquitoes, and in Port Elizabeth, wind of course.
On opening night, Wednesday, the wind was quite strong and blew through the microphones on occasion but the cast coped well.
Romeo and Juliet, being staged at the Mannville Open Air Theatre in St Georges Park, runs until March 21.
Tickets, available at the gate, cost R80 for adults and R60 for pupils.