“TWO HOUSEHOLDS both alike in dignity, In fair Verona where we lay our scene. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life.”
In Heart’N’Crown’s new staging of Romeo and Juliet, which comes to the Town Hall next week, Shakespeare’s famous play is updated to the hip modern suburb of Verona, while still retaining its original dialogue and with a top contemporary soundtrack to make this a must see show for everyone.
The stylish show is being directed by Donna Patrice Reidy and stars a well known Galway cast which includes Conor Quinlan, Emma Regan, Graham Feeley, Duncan Moss, Joan Gildea, and Mark McCormack.
With its rock soundtrack featuring artists such as Damien Rice, The Killers, and Nirvana, this production may at first seem as if it owes as much to Baz Luhrmann’s vibrant film version as Shakespeare’s original play but director Reidy disagrees.
“There have been so many versions of the play that it’s impossible not be compared to some other one,” she notes. “Hopefully we’ve succeeded in doing something different with ours that makes it fresh and distinctive. One of the things Luhrmann did was to amplify all the symbols in the play and we haven’t done anything like that.
“For our production, I was thinking of the sort of knife-culture we’ve been hearing and reading a lot about amongst Irish youth today and it’s set in that kind of milieu. We portray Lord Capulet and Montagu as corrupt business magnates. Even though the action still takes place in Verona, the actors retain their own Irish accents and present-day dress style.
“Hopefully, they’ll help convey the play’s timelessness and universality to some of the schools audiences who’ll be coming along.”
While Reidy has already directed several plays for Heart’N’Crown, most recently The Weir, in Romeo and Juliet she finds herself working with a large cast of 17. How much of a challenge has that been?
“It was certainly a big leap from The Weir which has only five characters!” she laughs. “The biggest challenge has just been finding times when everyone can get together because a lot of the cast have other jobs to go to. Everyone has been great about making that time available. For many of the cast it’s also their first time doing Shakespeare so it’s been quite a journey of discovery for them.”
It’s also Reidy’s first time to direct a Shakespeare production, but she’s had some excellent preparation for the task, having studied Shakespeare under the venerable Ted Zurkowski at New York’s famed Lee Strasberg studio.
“He has his own Shakespearean production company,” Reidy explains, “and I would definitely have learned a lot from him and am keen to bring some of that into this show.”
Featuring Conor Quinlan and Emma Regan as the star-crossed teenage lovers, Romeo and Juliet runs at the Town Hall from Wednesday January 14 to Saturday 17 at 8pm nightly.
For tickets contact the Town Hall on 091 - 569777.