It’s great when the familiar transcends its habitual zone and delivers an invigorating master work. Sexy and robust, Geoffrey Hyland’s captivating Romeo and Juliet sizzles with its live-wire tension from its unforgettable opening where the ensemble delivers the prologue as a chorus and performs it as an echo (a subtle reminder that this is a story that has been told for centuries and will continue to enthrall audiences for generations to come).
Hyland is blessed with a heavenly cast, turning angels into demons, and rogues into deities.
Hyland detoxes the incorruptible innocence of the characters and reveals an alluring vulnerability: when Lord Capulet explodes in a blind rage when his wishes are not met, he reveals his true nature, obscuring the pretence of an esteemed neighbor and morphs into an abusive father and husband, then suddenly transforms into an anxious housewife preparing a wedding feast.
It is unexpected transformations like this that gives the production and edge that shrewdly balances good and evil, darkness and light.
Hyland is well supported by his team: Ilke Louw’s stunning costumes add great texture to the complex characters and Luke Ellenbogen’ atmospheric lighting design functionally illuminates the emotional landscape of each scene.
Hyland’s set design is practical and highly effective, depicting a caged prison that mirrors the themes of imprisoned love and a ‘nest of death’.
Equally exciting is the clashing dueling scenes by Clayton Boyd that explode during invigorating confrontations, and Carolyn Holden’s choreography that infuses the play with a beguiling sensuality.
Of the cast: Glen Biderman-Pam and Céire Pearson make a striking Romeo and Juliet that aptly reflects young lovers and youthful yearnings; Dylan Horley is sensational as Benvolio; Nicholas Campbell makes a wicked Mercutio; Gerard Dhunrajah is a powerful Tybalt; Bianca Flanders is great as Lady Capulet, well supported by Siya Sikawuti who is sensational as Lord Capulet; Hannes Otto impresses as an endearing Friar; Phumelele Ngcobo delivers and emotional Lady Montague with Geoffrey Kukard as a stately Lord Montague; and Rebecca Makin-Taylor adds comic relief with her larger-than-life delivery of the Nurse.
Although these individual performances are noted, they are well supported by their fellow actors. As an ensemble they turn Shakespeare’s immortal words into unforgettable action that showcases the best new and upcoming talent Cape Town Has to offer.
Make sure to see this riveting staging of Romeo and Juliet. Its evocative mysticism is guaranteed to provoke the imagination. (reviewed by Daniel Dercksen)