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Year in Review 2019: Interview with Nancy Rothwell

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The best/worst thing I’ve ever seen on stage

The worst thing I have ever seen: Romeo and Juliet with Puppets

Last year I was sent to review an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet at the Contact Theatre which used puppets. Initially I was intrigued, how would these puppets be used and to what effect? Sadly, it soon became apparent that these puppets were merely a gimmick, used to detract attention away from the shortened version – a version which missed out some key moments. What was perhaps the most amusing, however, was the varying size and style of the puppets that were used: from small film character inspired puppets to larger than life more life-like puppets. The role of Juliet’s nanny was memorable largely due to the fact that a flying Star Wars-esque puppet was employed to portray her. The use of the puppetry was merely distracting – I spent a large portion of the performance trying to work out who was who and this wasn’t what I imagine the director wanted to convey.  There were of course funny moments but I couldn’t help thinking that this was unintentional. I was left feeling perplexed.

The best thing I have ever seen: Romeo and Juliet in a Church

Ironically my favourite performance is also an interpretation of Romeo and Juliet: however, this time it was held in the atmospheric grounds of St Pauls Church in Covent Garden, London. What I really enjoyed about this adaptation was how interactive it was; the audience was moved around the grounds of this church to make the most of the scenery. This led to some incredibly poignant moments, in particular the moments in which Romeo and Juliet commit suicide, an act which was held inside the church itself – finally their ‘bodies’ were laid  to rest on the altar.  I am aware that the successful use of these scenes was due to the fact that this particular company has the unique opportunity to perform in such incredible surroundings. However, the play itself was engaging: the portrayal of Juliet highlighted her youth and naivety, something which I felt brought a new slant to this infamous play.

Tags: best/worst thing I've seen on stage, puppets, Romeo and Juliet, william shakespeare

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