Hayley Grindle’s spare set, all concrete walkways and harsh sunlight, proves infinitely adaptable, aided by Tom Mills’s sound design; an arena for Kate Waters’s brilliantly choreographed, viscerally exciting fights and the setting for the sweetest of balcony scenes.

musical updating romeo and juliet-17

In keeping with the more permissive atmosphere of the sixties, Zefferelli restored the comic bawdry, and emphasized the youth and passion of the lovers.

Although critics complained that some of Shakespeare's language was neglected, audiences loved the vitality and sexuality of the production.

Often cuts were made so that famous actors in the title roles would be assured more stage time than anyone else.

Although Shakespeare makes it clear that Juliet is not yet fourteen and Romeo not much older, it was not unusual for the actors in these roles to be in their thirties or even their forties.

A production set in the sexually repressed Victorian era could contrast the "dirty" jokes of the all-male street scenes with the "clean" sexuality of the lovers.

One famous production was staged at the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1962, by Italian director Franco Zefferelli.

Whether his dramas should be taken as plays or as literature has been disputed. Acted, or seen on the stage, they disclose things hidden to the reader.

Read, they reveal what no actor or theater can convey. The first printed text of the play, which was published in 1597, stated that the play had been performed often, "with great applause." The presence of stage directions in this first printed script would suggest that it was written down from the memories of actors following a production; but the first written documentation of a performance comes from the 1662 diary of Samuel Pepys. Pepys disliked the play, it must have been well received by others, because another revival opened just a few years later.

But, overall, an involving, energetic update which takes risks and largely succeeds. For unlimited access to every article in its entirety, including our archive of more than 10,000 pieces, we're asking for £3.95 per month or £30 per year.