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The Arts Review: Romeo and Jude Encounter Pericles


A review of the latest cultural goings on. This week Romeo and Jude, The Encounter and The Master Builder.

We take a deeper look at Romeo and Jude, The Encounter and The Master Builder in our weekly arts feature from Andrew Venning.

Romeo and Jude

romeo and jude review

We find ourselves following the life of a young man called Jude who is rehearsing Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in a local village hall. He eventually falls in love with a fellow actor who works at the local factory in which he relies on funds from Jude’s aggressive , bullying and homophobic Father.

“It is a deeply moving adaptation and the treatment the two lovers are faced with is darkly disturbing”

It is a deeply moving adaptation and the treatment the two lovers are faced with is darkly disturbing. There are beautiful moments such as when the two run away to Stratford following an horrific falling out and physical homophobic attack from Jude’s ignorant Father and cousin, and it is then that the adult realities of being in love with someone and choosing to spend your life with them in the real world (post romantic ‘running away’) really hits this couple. It is a “young lover’s” story but our Romeo in this version is not a young man (something that is spun and used against him by the prejudiced characters we encounter).

So the question arises. How are they to live? What will they do for money? And where will they go? They are madly in love but “Romeo” is the much more pragmatic of the two and knows that whilst being in love is euphoric and amazing and even at times over-whelming, eventually they will need to find somewhere to live, make money and survive. They cannot stay on the run for ever.

It is an incredibly interesting 21st Century look at the idea of Romance and the story beautifully riffs on the original play and how the couple, (in the original) try to deal with Romeo’s banishment and how in this version one of the two is dealing with his own sexuality and becoming who he truly is. In that sense it is still the story of “young” love, as this experience of discovering something new about oneself and ones sexuality (and the pre-conceived ideas about ones sexuality)  is akin to the love at first sight and growing in to adulthood of Romeo and Juliet.

“It is a moving story that tackles issues from homophobia to what it’s like to want to be an actor”

It is a moving story that tackles issues from homophobia to what it’s like to want to be an actor, being in love with Shakespeare and the theatre and being in love with a man. Although like Romeo and Juliet itself it isn’t their particularly sexuality that is really what this story is about. It is a love story that tells of prejudice. Whether that is familial prejudice (Capulet’s and Montague’s) or Homophobia. This story is relevant on so many different levels.

It may seem long at 5 hours and takes until about 1 Hour and 30minutes in before it really gets in to the swing of things. You will have to have Amazon’s Audbile service (you can get a free 30 day trial – and I think that would give you access to one credit). Sadly Audible is not really a great service and I got to 3 Hours and 43 minutes and it took several buffering attempts on various different computers and devices over a week before I could finish the rest of  the story, which was a real shame. One hopes it will be picked up by a service without a paywall, like the BBC Radio’s Drama dept, as it deserves a wider audience.

Romeo and Jude is download on Audible aand is written by Marty Ross, inspired by William Shakespeare.

The Encounter

The-EncounterOn Tuesday 1st March Theatre de Complicite did a live stream of their show ‘The Encounter’ from The Barbican Centre and the relationship to man and technology and man and nature comes fully into focus.

Now I wouldn’t normally go to a Live cinema screening of a play simply because I am a passionate believer in the live performance, but  I know this medium has great a place in our culture as it means London shows can be watched all around the country and the world! And alternatively we can get a bigger audience perhaps watching Opera, for example, The Royal Opera House screenings in Summer are always free.

“It was absolutely imperative that the live audience wore headphones and so it was for us”

With ‘The Encounter’ I some how missed getting to the show in person, however, I did know that the show involved the audience wearing headphones during the performance in which Simon McBurney spoke to us through the onstage microphones. It was absolutely imperative that the live audience wore headphones and so it was for us, which is one of the reasons I was very keen to watch this show in this medium. It seemed to lend itself to it. Instead of just watching a live stream of a play, McBurney is talking directly into our headphones and we are more or less experiencing something similar to the live audience in the Theatre.

McBurney re-tells the story of Loren McIntyre a photographer who in 1969  got lost in the Brazilian rainforest, whilst trying to find the Mayourna people, and this encounter that he had with them is truly incredible and re-told on stage with such wonderment by McBurney who intertwines details about himself and his own personal life into the story of McIntyre. McBurney uses objects and affects to create an intensely powerful soundscape. One believes that one is in the rainforest and at times the journey we are taking becomes utterly psychedelic and brings in to question, both the nature of humanity, time and consciousness. Theatre, man, technology and even Nature have become truly symbiotic in this performance.

The encounter is by Complicite/Simon McBurney and was live streamed from the Barbican Centre, London


Pericles review

Shakespeare’s Pericles was co-authored with George Wilkins around 1607-1608 & only appeared in Quarto form (in 1609) and not in the famous First Folio f Shakeapeare’s complete works (1623).

It is a rarely performed piece, although it deals with similar issues to Shakespere’s other late plays, loss, the relationship of a Father and Daughter & exile to name a few. It’s great to see the Globe stage it in their indoor theatre (The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse) as it is likely to have been performed at The Blackfriars Theatre originally. (The SWP is based on the Blackfriars)

The play itself in my view is Shakespeare’s most “Brechtian” with its epic nature, jumping from one country to the next across time as the famous poet John Gower, a contemporary of Chaucer, narrates us through the different Acts & stories told in this play. The first “half” really focuses on Pericles Prince of Tyre and in the second half we follow his lost daughter Marina years later which eventually lands us back with Pericles at the end.

It isn’t Shakeapeare’s strongest work but The Globe has made a noble attempt at it here but sadly every time I have been in the SWP I have (for some reason) always been in the stage right seating block and everything I have seen there seems to favour being staged upstage right. Even in (the restricted) circle you can see 60-70% of the stage, but when you feel that for 2:55mins you have only been able to see 40% of the action then it is not good. It’s a beautiful space but this problem constantly arises in the SWP where a lot is missed. It also makes it harder when (as you stare at the other side of the audience unable to see anything) you can’t even hear certain parts of the play either, it’s a real shame.

“There seemed to be a tendency at times in the denouement to put comedy in places that it wasn’t needed”

I enjoyed certain parts of this production but there seemed to be a tendency at times in the denouement to put comedy in places that it wasn’t needed, it’s great to add in comic moments to help lighten the mood (particularly in such a “heavy” play) but at times I felt that beautiful moments were lost due to the choice of going for a laugh instead – this is not a “wrong” thing to do, it just simply didn’t suit, what I felt, to be perhaps better for certain moments. The comic choices did make sense and I understand why they were done when they were, but I believe more could have been gained from these touching final scenes.

I didn’t hear much and couldn’t see any of the final moments and that’s a real shame as it is a hard space to work and a tough play to do as it doesn’t flow as seemlessly or easily as some of Shakespeare’s other plays and George Wilkins’ career  (the co-writer) in playwriting was very short indeed, this says something more about why this play is not staged that often. It’s Worth a look if you haven’t seen the play before, especially to see it in a space that is designed like the one it would have possibly been performed in, but do make sure you are in the pit on the front row and that you’re prepared to pay for that necessity.

Pericles is on at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse


Andrew Venning All reviews by Andrew Venning

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