Friday, 8 July 2016

Such sweet sorrow

And so to the theatre, and also to the cinema as I've been to another live transmission. The elder Miss Epictetus and I have been to see Kenneth Branagh's Romeo and Juliet. I was a latecomer to these, but,as I think I've mentioned before, I'm very impressed. Far from diminishing the theatrical experience the cinematic aspect is done so well that those watching remotely actually get a better deal. Branagh sets his production in 1950's Italy and augments this theme by relaying it in black and white. For those of us whose mental image of that period of Italian history is based on 'La Dolce Vita' this is absolutely on the button; I'm not entirely sure what the large number of.15 and 16 year old GCSE students in the audience made of it.

The production was excellent, with Lily James outstanding as Juliet.The 'fit bloke from Game of Thrones' looked good, got his lines right and didn't fall over as Romeo, and a mention should be made of Meera Syal as the nurse. However, the star of the show was Sir Derek Jacobi as Mercutio. Branagh, in a pre-show exposition, explained his decision to cast the 77 year old by means of a long anecdote involving Oscar Wilde via D.H. Lawrence, although it might just have been simpler to point out that the text doesn't refer to the character's age. Whatever the justification, Mercutio as flâneur works very well. Indeed I am off to buy a cane (although probably not a swordstick) at the earliest opportunity; I have found a personal style for my retirement years.

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