REVIEW: Romeo and Juliet, GB Theatre Company at The Collector Earl’s Garden at Arundel Castle as part of the Arundel Festival

Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet

The final lines, uttered by the Prince of Verona, sum up the desperate nature of this Shakespearean classic: ‘For never was a story of more woe, than this of Juliet and her Romeo.’

But those unfamiliar with the star-crossed lovers, would be mistaken in thinking that despite its untimely deaths, this is a doom-laden play where no light shines.

For, in the closing moments, it illuminates its great truth. All enmity carries a great price which ultimately is too great. Peace is always preferable to war.

This is a tale of two wealthy feuding families with Romeo and Juliet a representative of each. Their fledgling love cannot bridge the divide - whereas their ultimate sacrifice does finally deliver peace by showing how futile all disagreements are in the context of their deaths.

GB Theatre are masters of the lighter Shakespearean comedies and ensure despite the sombre tone of Romeo and Juliet that they extract every ounce of humour from the bawdy lines and innuendo.

Joseph Passafaro, in the best traditions of the original stagings, brings a robust energy to every line as Mercutio, and no potential visual joke is overlooked in his hugely engaging performance.

Greg Shewring is Romeo and captures that sense of innocence, impetuousness, and naivety of young sincere love. Mollie Fyfe Taylor matches as Juliet.

It’s often forgotten how young these lovers are. Juliet is only 13. In today’s context, they were mere children and Shakespeare never lost sight of their lack of experience of the world or of their gentleness.

This production remains true to Shakespeare’s bold intent.

Thank goodness for GB Theatre Company. A packed Collector Earl’s Garden - the perfect setting - illustrates how important it is to keep the Bard’s work alive, and that when played honestly, with energy and good humour even the bleakest tale can remain wholly relevant and ultimately uplifting.