The young Ruby In the Dust Theatre company now have a semi-permanent home in the basement auditorium of the Leicester Square Theatre. Having done so well with their production of Dorian Gray they now present a fresh and bold version of Romeo and Juliet.
The action is set in Fascist Italy, with the warring families recast as either Mussolini’s “blackshirts” or Jews. At the risk of sounding mean-spirited, this ambitious concept adds little to the production (apart from the odd Star of David). Some people despair at the slightest change in the Bard’s text, but that isn’t the objection here. Unless you’re a purist, you’ll be happy with the changes made by director Linnie Reedman, especially as the result is a fast-paced and exciting show.
Very much in the spirit of Shakespeare, this is a show with plenty of music. Joe Evans has composed some delightful tunes that sit well next to an eclectic soundtrack. It is a shame that we can’t hear more, as the score adds to both romance and drama.
The cast take on board the show’s adventurous spirit, resulting in a series of virile performances. Dan Moore plays Paris with great stage presence. He rises above the sinister overtones of his black shirt to show why his character is described as having so much promise. Martin Dickenson does well as Tybalt, instantly establishing his strong-arm credentials and excelling in a superb fight scene with Christos Lawton’s dandyish, yet dangerous, Mercutio. A strong, appropriate sensuality marks all three performances and is echoed by Imogen Viden-North in the role of the Nurse. A considerably younger actress than we are used to in this part, she uses her age cleverly and makes the indulgence she shows her ward convincing.
Any production of Romeo and Juliet depends on its leads and here the evening excels. Daniel Finn and Olivia Vinall are young, vital and sexy. They treat their speeches naturally and bring out plenty of nuance. Their love is convincing, as is their fear of the situation they find themselves in. We are sure to see more of these young actors in the future and with this eye for casting are keen to see more Ruby In The Dust productions as well.
Until 11th July 2010
Photo by Patrick Dodds
Written 7 June 2010 for The London Magazine