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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 one.


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 death.

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? (though reconstructed).

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 Friar Laurance.

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 inspiration.

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.

The characters

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

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