ROMEO AND JULIET

Barton's teaching was more relevant to ROMEO AND JULIET, a play full of sonnetry. But I was nervous. 36 is no age to start playing Romeo; and my over-earnest athleticism was more like the last gasp of youth than the first flush of love. But at least I was old enough to find Romeo a little ludicrous as well as tragic. One happy matinée, Francesca Annis and I managed to get 27 intentional laughs in the balcony scene. We played through a long season in Stratford and Newcastle-upon-Tyne and, by the time we reached London, surprise, surprise, I was much better for the experience. I ended up quite satisfied with my farewell to juvenile roles. Unfortunately, the overhang of the Aldwych Theatre's dress-circle restricts the view from the rear stalls. Sitting there, it's like viewing the stage through a letter-box. The Capulet balcony was out of sight. I've never understood why you need a balcony - Shakespeare never mentions the word. The lovers are not kept apart by architecture: my Romeo, who leapt the orchard wall and clambered half-way up the proscenium arch, wouldn't be put off by a balcony, for God's sake! What stops him getting at Juliet, is her insistence on keeping sex for marriage, which precipitates the whole tragedy. The Aldwych should have been an ideal opportunity to throw away an old tradition and to play the scene on the flat. Imagine the emotional and sexual tension. Trevor Nunn didn't agree. He installed television monitors at the back of the stalls. 


 

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