Anna and I are in Thompson’s Park. The last time we were together here we were in school, in single figures and holding hands, plump little girls telling each other fairy stories under the trees.
I can’t get the memories out of my head.
But we cannot reminisce for long as the Verona College classmates of ’63 sport their straw boaters and burgundy blazers and bound across the turf towards us. Rowing, fighting, slipping in the mud, the cast takes Shakespeare’s teenage drama and hurls it into our faces. Narrated , compered, signed, sung and spoken – every aspect is communicated with a robust concern for comprehension.
Tybalt played Toby Vaughan and Ania Davies as Nell your friendly Access Prefect taken by Jorge Lizalde Cano.
And the compere is masterly. Her hold over events is complete. Perambulatory it may be, drifting it is not. A neat conflation of original text and twentieth century conversation makes for an irrepressible production.
The acting is good. Romeo is ardent; the lads lusty and exuberant; the lasses witty and charming. Juliet is perfect. She is the most expressive and believable Juliet I have seen, maturing easily from silly schoolgirl to tragic heroine.
Lord and Lady Capulet are, in turn, pompous, funny, angry and very married – both to each other and to their roles in life. Lady Capulet, as pretty in pink as the girls in their ballgowns, is a clown – comic and tragic, Mercutio in a frock.
Nurse. Ah. The school nurse of school books and boy, she is splendid in her cape and boots. The buffoon, the go-between and the butt of jokes. Well-played, indeed. We wish her well in her romance with the Friar! We feel for her at the end.
Truly Shakespearean, this multi-talented and multi-tasking troupe of players understand that the more we laugh, the more we will cry; that life is a glorious, terrible muddle, however well-flowered is your pump.
Choose a sunny day and join in! And do buy a programme – and a college sweater!
Event: Romeo and Juliet, a promenade performance
At: Thompson’s Park, Cardiff
Playwright: Shakespeare, originally
Producer: Beth House
Director: Elise Davison
Theatre: Taking Flight Theatre
Seen: 6.30pm, 17th June, 2016
Reviewer: Helen Joy for 3rd Act Critics
Running: Romeo & Juliet will tour all over Wales, in beautiful outdoor spaces