Romeo and Juliet review at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff – ‘fresh and inventive’

Omidaze' Romeo and Juliet at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Photo: Kirsten McTernan
Omidaze' Romeo and Juliet at Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff. Photo: Kirsten McTernan
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Omidaze Productions’ Shakespeare trilogy ends with an abridged retelling of Verona’s two star-cross’d lovers.

The strongest elements of the previous two productions, Richard III and an all-female Henry VI, are revisited here and, in some cases, evolved.

Starting in the foyer and moving to the Weston Studio of the Wales Millennium Centre, director Yvonne Murphy’s promenade staging takes place in an industrial wasteland of mistily-lit rusting metal structures, designed by Saz Moir.

An ensemble of six are actors, stage hands and ushers, move the audience around the space. All the performances are strong but it’s Hannah O’Leary and Gemma Creasey who stand out with their use of circus skills.

Versatile performers both, they move expertly between the apparatus that hangs from the rafters. Giving several of the characters the ability to ‘fly’ in this way dilutes its dramatic significance, but it’s still striking to watch.

As the play hurtles towards its climax, Tic Ashfield’s haunting score helps generate the tension. With each twist and turn the music rises, each death bringing with it a cacophony of strings. Moir’s costume design are deceptive in their simplicity as the set; every character has their own defining accessory.

Last year’s production of Henry VI is arguably the best of the trilogy, but this fresh, inventive Romeo and Juliet wraps things up nicely.

Verdict
Promenade staging and circus skills breathe new life into Shakespeare
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