I have been fortunate enough in life so far to have only experienced the gruelling tragedies of life through artistic means rather than personal. And who does tragedy like Shakespeare? The absolute vivaciousness, the raw power of Romeo and Juliet has not tired through age, or worn away or frayed at the edges with the innumerable times the words have been learnt and digested and repeated. Shakespeare’s characters manage to epitomise something of the essence of humanity. In all of its awful, its tragic and its hilarious glory.
For the most part, there was a brilliant chemistry between the actors in this Tomahawk production. Of particular note and causing the most uproar in the audience with their comedic sparring were Mercutio and Benvolio, played by Craig Findley and Zakkai Goriely respectively. A wonderful drunk scene catching the pair singing and stumbling around the Veronese streets early in the morning was followed by that head jarring wake up call we all know and love - the morning after the night before (one slightly updated with the addition of Beroca - I wonder what the Shakespearian equivalent was?) The chemistry between this pair perhaps upstaged that of Romeo and Juliet (Billy Morton and Chloe Orrock) who, despite extensive snogging and excellent acting, never quite achieved the sexual chemistry that I imagine Shakespeare had intended. Though bearing in mind the children in the audience, this was possibly a good thing.
Although Shakespeare’s words are enough in themselves it was the physicality of the actors that made this play fly. We got music (Francisco Vera), dance, a hilariously decrepit nurse (Barbara Denton) and a multitude of fight scenes; the tight choreography and stage direction leaving not a moment that the audience was not entertained. Ever more, as our language moves further from Shakespeare’s, it can be these gestural aspects that allows these plays to resonate in our present day.
The courtyard provided an atmospheric setting for the proceedings. An outdoor setting on an evening that got progressively colder and more likely to rain mirrored well the impending doom in the plot.
One last important thing to mention is the excellent hospitality of the Oxford Castle staff. Thanks to all of you, you made it a wonderful night!