Thursday, 14 May 2015

Flanagan Collective's Romeo and Juliet, St Olave's Church, York - 12th May 2015

Photo Credit: James Ducker
(Accessed from

Shakespeare would have been proud how love is celebrated in this production of Romeo and Juliet!

This contemporary production is part of York International Shakespeare Festival and currently playing at the city's St Olave's Church.  This all women cast tells the story of Shakespeare's tragedy which is infused with live music and singing.  Flanagan Collective take prides in using non traditional approaches and maximising intimate spaces.

One big party atmosphere greets the audience arrival with balloons, whistles and the donning of party hats.  The cast welcomes one and all to the party celebrating the youthful spirit of falling in love, being in love and being care free.

Alexander Wright makes the story people orientated as possible and focus on the universal quality of love with celebration with song and dance.  Reflection plays a part in joyful and painful circumstances through harmonic recitals, rituals and traditions.

There is this passion and energy by the six member cast throughout Romeo and Juliet from the beginning to the end.  With the adapted text from Tom Spencer the play links perfectly with the relevant themes, primarily love, which are relevant today as much then in Shakespearean times.  The objective of this production is the characters' present being rather than past events and fates.

This beautiful 15th Century Church stages the production effectively with great use of the alters and pulpit.  The characters interact with the audience in the pews.  The second act, as in line with the story, is reflective and poignant and this is when the use of candles come in. The dimmed lighting during the act reflects this,  Certainly a contrast of ambiance from a carnival party like atmosphere at the beginning to the poignant reflection of the lovers' tragic fate.

Hannah Davies' portrayal of the nurse stands out especially.  Her down to earth portrayal of the nurse is familiar with the audience with words shared plainly and wittingly.  It confirms that the producers' desire to project honest storytelling with its simple use of language; not compromising the Shakespearean feel but engaging the audience with comprehension. Rest of the cast plays the multiple characters; a job well done!

Certainly energetic and the passionate shared love is celebrated and reflected.  A must see during York International Shakespeare Festival!  It's playing at St Olave's Church until Saturday 23rd May.

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