Having seen Merely Theatre perform ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ last year, I was excited to see if they could make ‘Romeo and Juliet’, the one play I had studied to death at school, interesting again. They didn’t just make it interesting, they had me gripped from the prologue to the epilogue.
Genderblind casting is Merely Theatres way of performing. They have a company with 10 members, 5 men and 5 women. They pair up a man and a woman, give them the same part, rehearse them and then on the night of the performance, they decided who is going to play the part they were given on that night, often resulting in several male characters being played by women and vice versa.
The cast of my performance was 4 women (playing roles like Benvolio, Romeo and Juliet) and one man (who played the roles of Mercutio, Lord Capulet and the Apothecary) and it was wonderful. They burst onto the stage with huge amounts of energy and although it became a little confusing as to who was who, as the play progressed it was explained through action and use of the text.
The fast-paced action and constant flow of words was complemented with moments of stillness and softness, especially in the second act where all the actors seemed to reflect the emotion and relay it very powerfully to the audience.
If you’re looking for a classic Shakespeare play with all the passion and emotion of the Globe theatre, then Merely Theatre is exactly where you want to look. With its stripped back set, props and costume, the focus is on the words and the action of the play which holds the audience’s attention with a firm grip until the very last word.Tanieth Kerr