Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s Globe, London


Star-crossed and fatally miscast

The "two hours traffic of our stage" is, as usual in Romeo and Juliet, which opens the new season at Shakespeare's Globe, more like three hours. And Dominic Dromgoole's production is stuck in a few jams of its own devising: notably a great big hole in the middle of the road heading towards the star-crossed lovers' tragedy.

There's a pleasing athleticism to Adetomiwa Edun's Romeo, but he's fuzzy-voiced and emotionally monotonous. It's almost impossible to comprehend why he changes horses between Rosaline and Juliet. Edun's a 25 year-old Etonian, well favoured in appearance, but hopelessly underpowered for the role, and far too pleasant and ingratiating.

His Juliet is equally inexperienced, a prim little speedy lapwing in Ellie Kendrick's performance who's neither girlish nor sexually adolescent. The actress recently played Anne Frank in a tea-time television adaptation.

It's just her luck that her post-coital smooch is conducted on a raised platform with a railing like that of a seaside promenade and she gets lover boy's rope ladder twisted on its fastening. Her bounty is as boundless as the sea? Oh no it isn't, and her delivery of "Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds" is about as exciting as a stable girl calling her charges at a point-to-point.

Both actors will go on to other and better things, but they're miscast here. Dromgoole has more success with the street scenes, which have a fine brawling intensity thanks to Malcolm Ranson's fight arrangements, and especially with the music, which bathes the action, in Nigel Hess's arrangements, in madrigals and villanellas set to poems by Walter Raleigh and Torquato Tasso.

These items are delivered by the self-named Codpiece Quartet of actors who pop up in other minor roles, notably, in the case of Jack Farthing, as a striking Benvolio. Farthing's a professional stage debutant, as are Kendrick and the frowning Ukweli Roach as Tybalt, whose revenge murder finds Romeo banished. Another eye-catching performance – wonderfully audible, too – is that of the New Zealand-Maori actor Rawiri Paratene as Friar Lawrence, managing to make his dogged assistance in the lovers' plight seem not like a bad case of pious meddling. A rare achievement.

The final disaster and mishaps in the vault are awkwardly done here, taking place around a spiral staircase and in full lighting, with Juliet stretched out on a slab like a tomb sculpture.

She's dug her own grave, anyway, in her squealing teenage tantrums with her dad, Ian Redford's imposing Capulet, who is well partnered by Miranda Foster playing Lady Capulet. The scenes of Juliet's disobedience are her best, prostrate in apology when she buys deceptively into the plan to marry Tom Stuart's angular Paris.

The performance of the night, though, comes from Penny Layden as the Nurse. Far removed from the fussing tradition of comic garrulity and the Patricia Routledge factor, Layden plays her as a scrubbed, middle-aged, sensible woman carrying a history of sadness. The bawdy assault on her by Philip Cumbus's melancholy Mercutio is both shocking and plausible, and she retains her quiet dignity while at the same time mourning its sacrifice.

Simon Daw's design for the open and awkwardly pillared stage ends up as a strange mixture of Elizabethan costumes and an Ikea-like wooden boarded upper level. The front apron is less successfully exploited than it has been in past seasons. Early days, though.

To 23 August in rep (020-7401 9919;

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
Israeli-born actress Gal Gadot has been cast to play Wonder Woman
Top Gear presenter James May appears to be struggling with his new-found free time
Arts and Entertainment
Kendrick Lamar at the Made in America Festival in Los Angeles last summer
Arts and Entertainment
'Marley & Me' with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson
Arts and Entertainment
Jon Hamm (right) and John Slattery in the final series of Mad Men
Arts and Entertainment
Arts and Entertainment
Place Blanche, Paris, 1961, shot by Christer Strömholm
photographyHow the famous camera transformed photography for ever
Arts and Entertainment
The ‘Westmacott Athlete’
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor