Shakespeare’s R ; J is about 4 American Schoolboys who find a ‘forbidden’ copy of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The Strict boys start to read the book and re-enact the play by night getting more gripped by each scene. This was performed at the Arts Theatre in London by an all male cast. R ; J is one of the longest running plays in New York ever.
First Impressions – When entering the Theatre there were two chairs and a bench in the middle of the stage. The lights were alight on the stage and slightly brighter where the audiences seats were.
Scenery – For the Scenery there is a white large projector screen at the back of the stage. Apart from this there was a raised stage to put props underneath and to allow easy access. The projector was used to create images of blood when the sword fights were on and images of rain andstarry nights.
Props – For props there was two chairs and a bench. These were moved around repeatedly in the play to act as various different pieces such as a coffin for the ‘dead’ Juliet and a bed for the American Schoolboys. There was also an eluded copy of Shakespeare’s R ; J which was repeatedly used to remind the audience of the children reading the book and then acting the scenes out. Perhaps one of the cleverest ideas was by using a long red cloth. The cloth was used as a sheet which the nurse and Juliet were knitting but then drastically changed into blood and swords for the sword fight.
Costumes – The costumes which were used were school uniforms which consisted of Black trousers, a white shirt, a grey cardigan and a ‘school’ tie. This also reminded the audience of the interpretation made by the schoolboys. When the cast were rebelling they ripped off their ties and cardigans and rolled up their sleeves to try and show the power and emotion which the book had brought them.
Sound – The sound came mainly from the actors projecting their voices apart from Plato who had a pre recorded voice which was given an echo to make him appear as overpowering and almost being the ‘God’ of the perfomance.
Period – The period which the play was from was in times of Elizabeth I, but the actors acted the play as schoolboys from the present day.
Roles – The actors played several roles each. For instance while before a fight occurring one character would quickly change his opponents character and the scene and the attitude and overall characters feelings changed in an instance.
Pauses – While some of the actors were acting centre stage the others still remembered to carry on their roles by acting in the background either by watching on and sniggering like school children would or by striking a pose to show their overall position.
Formal/Informal – The actors idea on the lay changed as the play went on. At the beginning like schoolboys would when they were girls they mimicked them and made fun of their voices and their breasts but as the play went on the actors as the boys became more accustomed to the role and played the part more and more seriously.
Audience – The audience was mainly students who did English and Theatre Studies due to I being a ‘matinee’ performance.
Involvement – Every actor was on the stage constantly and never walked off. This made the play seem more realistic and it pulled the audience in as we were really made to feel as if this was happening in the dormroom of a boarding school.
Mood – The overall mood was very well portrayed and controlled by the actors, even when the play was getting serious a joke would be thrown in. When Romeo and Juliet were laying on the floor after the poison the mood was as low as could be, but when Juliet awoke and hope could be seen the anticipation was controlled.
Facial Expression – The expressions on the faces of the actors was varied as to the character the actor was playing. When playing the nurse one of the actors was very kind and gentile, while when the actor changed to playing one of the Lords his face was more angry and violent.
Context – Compared to the actual play of Romeo and Juliet a reasonable amount was missed out due to the length of the production but I believe that the parts that were played were expressed well and overall I understood the play better than when I read the play from a book.
Language – The language from the play was straight out of the book and was written in Old English. Even though I haven’t done a lot of plays with this style of language as the play went on I found the language easier to grasp.
Lighting – The lighting was what controlled the mood of the play as when the play was getting sad the lights went dark but when the mood was relaxed the lights were dimmed. When there were drastic scenes the lights were tinted with red. The lights at one point were controlled by the actors with their torches to give a spooky exterior.
Pace – The pace of the play overall was fairly quick due to the time but it slowed down and sped up. For instance when Romeo and Juliet had their love scene the pace was slow but when there were arguments the pace of the play was fairly quick.
Approach – The approach to the play taken by the actors was one of the idea of conveying the play in a completely different way from normal by doing it from a kid’s perspective.
Characters – The 4 actors each had at least 2 characters to convey. The way they managed to completely change their role and their character at the flick of a switch was stunning.