In fair Verona where we lay our scene.Romeo and Juliet. Globe Touring. Alvington Manor, Winchester. 19 July 2008.

Alvington Manor is an eighteenth century, red brick house with Arcadian pillars and grounds that spread from fields into a ring of ancient oak trees. It was the end of a beautifully sunny day and as the shadows lengthened across the ground, a few pals and I sat down with a basket full of food and wine to enjoy the Globe touring’s production of Romeo and Juliet.

In the tradition of the sixteenth century theatre companies, the Globe now has a touring company that plays in spaces outside historic houses. They use the non-traditional theatre spaces setting up small stage areas in corners and crevices of ancient brick.

Now, at this point I ought to say Romeo and Juliet is far from a favourite of mine. I generally find the two protagonists a bit whiny and annoying and just too much like hormonal teenagers to find them truly engaging. So I was here to enjoy the picnic and see if I could have my mind changed.

This was a very simple production, with modern costume and a set built largely of a powder blue VW Camper van. This was used for the majority of entrances and exits, and all sides of it were used. Action emerged from the doors, on top of it, underneath and at the sides. Part of the entertainment became guessing where the actors would appear from next.

The level of interaction between the players and audience was very high. I was pleasingly winked at by the Count Paris, hugged by Benvolio and apologized to by Romeo. Brilliant!

Alan Morrissey made a refreshingly down to earth Romeo. He was young and impetuous, whilst simultaneously being aware of the gravity of his situation.

For me the stand out performance was from Marsha Henry as the Nurse. She was a young woman with a Jamaican accent, and she was a cheery realist, all her actions motivated by her intense love for Juliet.

So did I change my mind? Well, I still found myself shaking my head (No Romeo, Don’t do that! Lawrence, forget the post! Juliet, get your kit on and go off to Mantua with him! Just tell them!) in mild disbelief, but this was a clear production, telling its story with humour and emotion. So maybe I have not changed my mind, but I am in the process of being talked round.


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