Set among the beautiful surrounds of Robertson Park in Watsons Bay, Sydney, Shakespeare By The Bay presents The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. In partnership with Bard on the Beach, Watsons Bay Hotel and the Woollahra Council, Romeo and Juliet plays out against an ocean backdrop, with the water lapping gently against the dock as bats screech overhead. Not a bad setting to watch one of Shakespeare’s most tragic and well-known plays of two star-crossed lovers from warring families in ancient Verona, where we lay our scene.
Not your average ‘boy meets girl’ story, Romeo, son of the House of Montague and Juliet, daughter of the House of Capulet, bring a new meaning to teenage angst. An accidental meeting at a party sees the pair fall madly, and quickly, in love and while both are aware their families would not approve, marriage seems to be the most logical next step.
Every time I see this play I always feel as if Friar Laurence (Mark Zihrul) has a lot to answer for. As the adult who marries the naïve pair, he is more than aware of the conflict and possible danger their union may evoke. Yet, he sees their match as a potential way in which to end the lifelong conflict between the Montagues and Capulets – an idea that is good in theory but not so great in practice. He is also the mastermind behind the whole “Juliet faking her own death” plan, in which it is his responsibility to warn Romeo, which he fails to do in time, so Romeo, believing his only love is dead, kills himself. Yet despite his involvement, he appears to escape this tragedy fairly blameless. But I digress.
For me, the standout performance of the night was Robert Snars as Romeo’s friend Mercutio. Mercutio is always the more playful of the cast and Snars plays this up perfectly. I have been fortunate enough to have seen Snars in other performances and I am increasingly impressed by his ability and stage presence. His overall likeability as Mercutio ensures that when he is killed, the audience feels it too.
Another impressive performance is Jess Vince – Moin as Juliet’s Nurse. It’s easy to assume that the Nurse is a superfluous and farcical role with little importance but in fact, she is integral to the plot and the much-needed source of comic relief in what is a dark story. Vince – Moin plays this delicate balance between confident, nurturer and comic to perfection and she steals every scene she is in.
Adding to this is the engaging dynamic between the Nurse and Juliet, played beautifully by Jade Alex Fuda. Their affection is genuine and there is an honesty in their performances which translates wonderfully on stage.
The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet presented at Watsons Bay was a great way to pass the evening. It perhaps would have been even more pleasant had there not been two loud bars on either side of us, which at times made it difficult to hear the cast, who had to yell to be heard above the noise. Regardless, it was a beautiful portrayal of a classic play which never fails to entertain.
Performances of The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet and The Merry Wives of Windsor are on at Watsons Bay until April 23rd, 2017.
For more information and to purchase tickets head to the website.
Image courtesy of Shakespeare By The Bay.