Firstly a word to the wise – the publicity material mentions bringing a rug. I, rather naively, assumed that this meant something to wrap yourself in should it get cooler towards the end of the evening. Alas, it means that there are no seats provided. So do think ahead and take folding chairs or lots of cushions to make the physical experience more comfortable!
On to the performance…
The setting is a battered camper van at the back of a stage area framed by two wooden pillars (which reflect those found at The Globe). This is a clever device which allows an enormous amount of flexibility and often a lot of humour. The costumes are a stylish amalgam of contemporary streetwear with period doublets – an anachronism which worked well for me.
The cast of 8 burst from the camper van at the start of the performance and we are pitched immediately into the inter-family conflict which pervades the play. They all bring a lot of vocal energy to the text – which is essential with outdoor performances.
However there is a flaw at the heart of the staging which leaves the audience struggling to fully involve themselves with the emotional core of the text. The director has chosen to ask his actors to move almost constantly. Perhaps this is an attempt to provide a sense of movement and pace to the piece (maybe to compensate for the small cast size) but all it ends up doing is diverting the actors from concentrating on telling the story. A huge amount of the text is delivered with the actors seemingly running round the stage – which means we lose too much. Movement does not necessarily mean energy – a confusion that strips the production of much clarity and polish.
All this is a dreadful shame as there are some very fine performances from the actors themselves which had they allowed to be still would have resonated more with the audience. Ellie Piercy captures the teenage Juliet to perfection – she has a real sense of wonder and truth in her acting. Her Romeo (Richard Madden) uses his natural Scottish accent to add an earthy authenticity to the poetic nature of his character.
I find it hard to contain my disappointment at my first experience of The Globe on tour. It promised so much and it delivered somewhat less than I had hoped. Perhaps I had built up my expectations too high. It is a production that you will enjoy – it tells the story well and there are some good performances. But it is flawed. Others may feel differently – you will have to judge for yourself.