The incredible Romeo and he is - black!
Sitting out in the open with the sky for a roof, basking in the
warmth of the morning Sun, the Globe fuses something evergreen. Inspite
of the history, the ageing of the oak, this performance of Romeo and
Juliet is a burst of new energy and a new beginning. This is a great
reminder of the younger England and a great refresher of the present
Gorgeously handsome Edetomiwa Edun as the sizzling black Romeo
with the beautiful Juliet, Ellie Kendrick
Highlighting this effect, I see this robust, bouncy, young, black
Romeo, sterling every heart as he appears in the open stage. It is the
Bard's greatest play. It is about the exuberance and exhilaration of two
young hearts and about the purity of young love.
Romeo, the passionate lover who in grief must not fear. This is
gorgeously portrayed by Adetomiwi Edun who even puts Laurence Olivier to
the background or for that matter, Leslie Howard who had been Romeos
generations apart. Edun along with Ellie Kendrik as Juliet, makes the
whole play very poignant and real.
This tragedy is for youth of today as they see Romeo and Juliet in a
different perspect. Staging a black Romeo is spectacular and thrilling
and as I gaze around the crowds. They are all excited and spellbound.
Never was a Romeo like this tall, strapping and teasingly handsome.
Juliet comes from the right latitude and she needs far more
experience, experiments and though many an actress failed but not
today's Kendrick. With her innocent looks, she fits the role as the
13-year-old Juliet who would have been 14 on Lammas Eve, soon after her
Romeo famously describes Juliet's lips as 'blushing pilgrims' when
they fall in love at first sight. And here, we find Shakespeare using
literary form to set the scene. Would the playwright ever have imagined
that centuries later, to lovely young lovers such as Adetomiwa and Ellie
Kendrick would passionately arouse his characters in his own Globe?
The play powerfully conveys the reckless spirit of vitality, the main
reason being that Edun and Kendrick bring a freshness and vivacity to
their parts. To me this is the most absorbing live theatrical experience
and worth the distance I had to tread on foot.
The events of Romeo and Juliet that unfold before my eyes, are driven
forward for incomprehension of the older generation for the young. In
myth and fiction, the young lovers exist in a limited phase and are on
the verge of adult commitment of sex and society. Todays' play adds
scenes and shorter passages to the version of the story and somehow
complicates their relationships with their families. They simulate the
experience of adolescence and the intense changing passions which often
generate defiance against the adult world.
In the opening scene, more than half the dialogue explains Romeo's
state of mind. Romeo isolates himself and is restless and
uncommunicative, seeking an ambience to suit his mood. Benevolio not
only shares some of Romeo's feelings but recognizes the correspondence.
Yet, he cannot identify Romeo's problems which is an obvious case of
unsettled hormones. He is determined to help Romeo find the cause.
In scene four, Romeo is engulfed in the power of imagination and
expresses his anger and his sexual fantasies. Between this episode and
the beginning on the third act, Mercutio and Benvolio intrude on the
love story, accentuating Romeo's growing distance from their social
life. After the explosive violence that kills Mercutio, Benvolio too
disappears from the play which leaves Romeo to fend for himself. He
engages himself primarily with old characters who expedite his fate.
Adding two scenes to earlier versions that position the character of
the young Capulet, the play introduces Juliet. When she appears in the
third scene, she has very little to speak hinting at the complexities to
come but she is well defined in social terms. The play conceals her
state of mind and announces her age, status as an only child and heir.
The play also reveals the total dependency of her parents in terms of
her betrothal. I do not understand Shakespeare's logic in rushing the
innocent tender Juliet into a marriage that early.
The play makes adjustments to the Capulet family while Romeo
languishes in his burning love for Juliet. The Montagues and Capulets
are well positioned in society and wealth but they are arch rivals. The
adolescence in Verona ignites their hatred to each other. The family
obduracy represents the lovers’ face and fate. As the play progress a
key to the relationship between generations exchange between Romeo and
The dialogue rendering by Romeo is both spectacular and passionate.
It’s feeling simply breeze on all of us. It’s effect engulf us. The
young Edun speaks out like a veteran, nay like a Thespian. He carries
the whole play upon his shoulders. The beautiful young Hendrick is his
The movement of time in hours or years radiate through poetry in the
play while turning the core of the tragedy. The scene at the vault is
both touching and heart-rending. There is not a sigh, and as the weather
too was watching this, down come a drizzle of dew. Though all of us are
in the open, no one stirs. Such is the poignant impact. As Juliet kills
herself and the scene ends, a thunder of clapping as though the heavens
open up renders the air.
At the end what strikes me most is the fact that Friar Laurence bears
a heavy responsibility for the fate of the lovers but the time’s other
agent is the play. The nurse also has a major part. The expansion of her
character is one of Shakespeare’s principal addition and tells us all
that the Nurse and Friar is the brevity of our lives, one bringing us
into the world and the other seeing us out.
Romeo - Adetomiwa Edun
Montague - Michael O'Hagen
Capulet - Ian Redford
Mercutio - Phillip Cumbus
Benvolio - Jack Farthing
Juliet - Ellie Hendrick
Lady Montague - Holly Atkins
Lady Capulet - Miranda Foster
Tybalt - Ukweli Reach
Paris - Tom Stuart
Prince - Andrew Vincent
Nurse - Penny Layden
Director - Dominic Dromgoole
Choreographer - Siden Williams
Artistic Director - Dominic Dromgoole
Friar Lawrence - Rawiri Paratene
Designer - Simon Daw
Composer - Malcolm Ranson