Romeo & Juliet

20 Dec 2012-09 Mar 2013,

Outdoors,

South Yarra,

Theatre,

Theatre Reviews

4

The Australian Shakespeare company performs this Bard favourite in the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens

This event has finished

It's a glorious warm January evening in the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne. On a long, solid-looking stage nestled among flowering eucalypts, the Shrine of Remembrance just visible in the background, Brendan O'Connor and Anthony Rive – in leather pants and jerkins – are madly grinning and mugging as they introduce the Australian Shakespeare Company's Romeo & Juliet.

Spread out before them on a remarkably lush lawn – remarkable given the recent weather – an audience of picnicking families and couples are grinning along with them. It's an idyllic venue for outdoor Shakespeare.

This is not an interpretation of the Bard's great love tragedy that will offer audiences any brave new insight, but Glenn Elston's well-trimmed adaptation is nonetheless intelligent, smoothly turned and tells the story in a snappy two and a half hours. The cast of 15 are enthusiastic, and though there are quite a few garbled lines and nonsensical emphases, they carry on with good-natured humour and a democratic spirit.

It lacks art, no doubt, but makes up for it with dedication. All of 18 years old, Madeline Field as Juliet is not entirely confident with the verse or the larger gestures native to Shakepearean tragedy, but she has clearly thought deeply on the feeling and significance of her part and is, in the main, a pleasure to watch. Jamieson Caldwell is less endearing and perhaps leans too much on a faintly louche charm, but by the time he meets his true apothecary he has found his passion.

The stage is well designed for the long, undulating lawn, lending a festive atmosphere to the venue. As sunset fadeth in the west, powerful lights bring the whole thing up in a gaudy gold and silver. Right across the stage, which must be 30 metres end-to-end, the players are always well lit. A real highlight is also Paul Norton's musical direction.

Perhaps the tragedy of the evening is undercooked, but as a cheerful celebration of the excitement and enchantment of first love, what Proust calls the thing too big for us to altogether contain within ourselves, it's a fine evening of entertainment.

Sign up to our monthly arts newsletter

First published on . Updated on .

By Andrew Furhmann   |  

Romeo & Juliet details

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne


Address
Birdwood Ave

South Yarra 3141

Telephone 1300 122 344

Date 20 Dec 2012-09 Mar 2013

Open Tue-Sun 8.30pm

Director: Glenn Elston

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne details

South Yarra area guide

Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne map

Restaurants near Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

Jardin Tan

275m - Shannon Bennett, the brain behind the Vue De Monde empire, is kicking out...

Orient East

599m - The in-house restaurant at the hotel Seasons Botanic Gardens, Orient East...

Dish

711m - It may be a hotel restaurant but Dish hardly looks the part. With its open...

Bars & pubs near Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

The Botanical

921m - The Botanical is a Melbourne institution on the south-eastern side of the...

Rising Sun Hotel: South Melbourne

1315m - You'll find steak deals, drink meals and more at this old-fashioned boozer....

Riverland Bar

1420m - It's pretty much all about Friday night sausages and mulled wine at...

Other venues near Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne

King's Domain Gardens

245m - Part of the Domain Parklands, the King's Domain Gardens border the Shrine of...

The Ian Potter Foundation Children's Garden

275m - This is a fantastic place to go if you live in the 'burbs to instil in your...

Pioneer Women’s Memorial Park

371m - Designed as part of the 1932 Melbourne Centenary celebrations, this garden...

Readers' comments, reviews, hints and pictures

Community guidelines

blog comments powered by Disqus
 


© 2007 - 2014 Time Out Group Ltd. All rights reserved. All material on this site is © Time Out.