Sunglasses? Tick. Suncream? Tick. Raincoat? Tick. Cushion? Tick. Blanket? Tick.
Was I packing for a staycation weekend? No, just for a trip to the theatre. Let me explain …
Hull Truck Theatre’s production of Romeo & Juliet is being staged at the city’s open-air theatre, Stage@TheDock.
Hull, on the east coast, can get every type of weather in one day, so the above were just some of the items we theatregoers were advised to carry with us for the performance on Wednesday afternoon.
As the temperature hit the high 20s, this fascinating outdoor theatre began to fill up with people of all ages. We were all here for the most famous love story of all, William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet.
A jolly accordion player (Nicholas Goode) musically opened proceedings and he was quickly joined by fellow cast members – then it was fun and games all the way.
The story really needs no introduction – boy, Romeo (Jordan Metcalfe), meets girl, Juliet (Laura Elsworthy), at a party. It’s love at first sight for both, but he belongs to the Montague family, of Verona, Italy, and she is a Capulet of the same city. And both families hate each others’ guts.
There’s murder and mayhem, but the young lovers stick to their amorous guns.
Romeo is “bani-shed” from Verona. Meanwhile, Juliet’s mother, Lady Capulet (Carolyn Backhouse) is determined to see her daughter married off to Paris (Richard McIver in his UK live theatre debut), a good looking man of means.
The young lovers hatch a plan, with the help of Juliet’s childhood nurse (Amanda Gordon), so they can be together.
Juliet also turns to Friar Lawrence (Laurie Jamieson), for one of his concoctions that will make her appear dead for a while, just so she can get out of the marriage to Paris.
Unfortunately, she forgets to tell Romeo this part of her plan, with tragic consequences.
A happy ending it ain’t, but this small cast of talented actors made it a very happy experience for us theatregoers.
My regular reader will know I am not a fan of William Shakespeare’s lingo, but nevertheless, I was impressed that I could hear every word clearly by everyone taking part on the day – no mean feat outdoors in a bustling part of the city.
The cast were dressed in 20th century outfits, with not a doublet and hose in sight, but Shakespeare’s words never let us forget this is a love story from centuries ago.
As the sun blazed down, this super talented crew never lost their concentration or failed to entertain. And most had more than one role.
Comic touches abounded – the most amusing for me was the character of Tybalt (a dual role for Jamieson). As soon as he swaggered onto the stage, he made me giggle. Pity he had to die … oops, spoiler, sorry.
The Nurse (Gordon) also amused us throughout with her antics.
Musical talents abounded and Romeo’s cousin, Benvolio (EM Williams), a non-stop bundle of fun, revealed a fine singing voice, too.
All in all, a very entertaining afternoon. My one piece of advice – take two cushions to sit on. Make that three; those seats feel like concrete after two hours.
Running until Saturday, August 7th, 2021, 7pm nightly with 2pm matinees on Saturdays, July 24th and 31st and Wednesday, August 4th and Saturday, August 7th. Call (01482) 323638 or visit www.hulltruck.co.uk Livestream: Saturday, July 24th, 7pm; On Demand, Sunday, July 25th – Saturday, August 7th
Tickets from £14. Call (01482) 323638 or visit www.hulltruck.co.uk
Reviewer: Jackie Foottit
Reviewed: 21 July 2021
North West End UK Rating: ★★★