Tragic end for the National's 'Romeo and Juliet'

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The Independent Culture

Actors in the National Theatre's troubled production of Romeo and Juliet are not having their contracts renewed when the play's run ends.

Actors in the National Theatre's troubled production of Romeo and Juliet are not having their contracts renewed when the play's run ends.

An NT spokeswoman said yesterday: "They are not being extended because we have our box office targets to meet - 72 per cent attendance - and audiences for the current performances are not hitting their target."

She denied that the actors were being penalised for poor attendances. The cast, hired as an ensemble, could have expected to be used in a number of productions, as ensembles under Trevor Nunn, the NT's artistic director, have in the past.

The production's problemswere widely leaked to the press when it was revealed that Mr Nunn had to step in to do work on the production being directed by Tim Supple. The opening night was postponed. Actors were anonymously quoted berating the way the production had been allowed to go wrong. The reviews were largely poor.

Yesterday it emerged that none of the actors in Romeo and Juliet will have their contracts renewed when the run ends in January. The cast of Peer Gynt, which has not yet opened but has also had problems, are also not having their contracts renewed. A total of 26 actors are involved.

The Stage newspaper claimed yesterday that following leaks from the productions and claims they have been unhappy shows to work on, the NT "could be seen to be silencing dissenting voices by releasing all performers".

The production of Romeo and Juliet had one of the most troubled histories in recent years at the National. Mr Supple was allowed to work on another play in rehearsal in Bromley during the final stages of rehearsal and there was surprise that the National permitted such dual activity.

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