Star-Cross’d, Oldham Coliseum in Alexandra Park, Oldham

4.00

 

It is a brave writer who takes liberties with a Shakespeare script, let alone re-writes the ending. But the rich rewards of such risks are to be found in the improbable setting of a municipal park in Oldham.

There are almost 70 productions of Shakespeare playing across the nation this summer, but don’t let Ian Kershaw’s depiction of a turf battle between Oldham’s white and Asian youths – challenging and celebratory in equal measure - pass you by.

Kershaw’s reworking of Romeo and Juliet, delivered in the surrounds of the Alexandra Park to which the Oldham Coliseum has relocated while undergoing refurbishment, opens with crackling tensions of the Asians and whites.

That’s precisely how it was here 11 summers ago, when some malign school-gate incidents were the precursor to riots which left race relations on their knees in a bloodied, bruised Oldham. Kershaw has not been unflinching in his willingness to pick up the threads of that chaos for the Coliseum before and the re-telling of the love story again reveals his ear for the language, the humour and the sense of the place.

Oldham's star-crossed lovers are, naturally enough, the Asian daughter and the English son of Oldham's rival taxi firms - Capulet Cabs and Montague Private Hire. And after the hooded gangs of either side have postured and prodded each other near the park gates, Kevin Shaw's community production takes us on a joyful promenade involving so many people and so many different groups of dancers, actors, musicians that there is an immediate sense of how the streets of Oldham have been healed.

Like wandering minstrels, the Delph Brass Band lead the journey of discovery from set to set, gathering up curious bystanders as they make their stately progress to scenes at the Edwardian bandstand, palatial orangery, ornate, cast iron painted bridge and bowling green pavilion to boating lake. Shakespeare’s language is interspersed with the Oldham vernacular. Comic moments meld with tragic, as Asian dancers weave among hoodie-clad street gangs.

And at the end of it all, a floating, candle-lit finale on the lake where an audience is urged to plead with Adam Barlow’s impressive Romeo “don’t do it”. We discover that we have the power to affect the ending, just like Oldham – a town rising back to its feet with the help of writers like Kershaw.

A production to lift the grey clouds that have blighted every outdoor event of this summer and one which gives Shakespeare back to the people, just as he might have intended it. The sense of inclusion includes the price. Children's tickets are a flat £5, too. If it's wet, you get a free bin bag to sit on!

Until July 22. Box office: 0161-624 2829

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth McGovern as Cora, Countess of Grantham and Richard E Grant as Simon Bricker

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Art
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard, nicknamed by the press as 'Dirty Diana'

Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
The X Factor 2014 judges: Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Mel B and Louis Walsh

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace was caught by a camera van driving 32mph over the speed limit

TV
Arts and Entertainment
books
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
Star turns: Montacute House
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Iain reacts to his GBBO disaster

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Outlaw Pete is based on an eight-minute ballad from Springsteen’s 2009 Working on a Dream album

books
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012

film
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Gothic revival: artist Dave McKean’s poster for Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination
Exhibition
Arts and Entertainment
Diana Beard has left the Great British Bake Off 2014

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live

TV
Arts and Entertainment
TVDessert week was full of the usual dramas as 'bingate' ensued
Arts and Entertainment
Clara and the twelfth Doctor embark on their first adventure together
TVThe regulator received six complaints on Saturday night
Arts and Entertainment
Vinyl demand: a factory making the old-style discs
musicManufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl
Arts and Entertainment
David Baddiel concedes his show takes its inspiration from the hit US series 'Modern Family'
comedyNew comedy festival out to show that there’s more to Jewish humour than rabbi jokes
Arts and Entertainment
Puff Daddy: One Direction may actually be able to use the outrage to boost their credibility

music
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

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

    Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

    Stolen youth

    Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
    Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

    Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

    He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
    Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

    Made by Versace, designed by her children

    Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
    Anyone for pulled chicken?

    Pulling chicks

    Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

    'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

    US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
    Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

    Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
    Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    James Frey's literary treasure hunt

    Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

    What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

    Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband