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Edinburgh Fringe 2015

Shakespeare in the Garden : Romantic Romeo

Captivate Theatre

Genre: Children's Theatre, Classical and Shakespeare

Venue: The Famous Spiegeltent


Low Down

An end of Fringe feeling with the nine strong cast losing no opportunity to send themselves and the plot up for all it was worth.


Once more unto Shakespeare In The Garden, this time to see their take on Romeo and Juliet in the capacious Spiegeltent in St Andrew’s Square. And there was very much an end of Fringe feeling to this show with the nine strong cast losing no opportunity to send themselves and the plot up for all it was worth.

Captivate Theatre’s formula of lots of music mixed with plain English narration and a smattering of Shakespearian text works well for audiences of all ages. Here they used a lyrical madrigal to set the time and place of this piece (squarely in Elizabethan days of yore), and then upped the musical tempo with another number to set out the basics of the plot – two warring families, boy from one in love with girl from the other. That’s about as much as anyone needed to understand what then followed.

The initial engagement of Montagues and Capulets was extended to include many parts of the warring families, allowing them to get humour from the “bite your thumb” dialogue whilst explaining to the audience that this was as about as bad an insult that one party could hurl at another back in the 16th Century. Role reversal also generated laughs with Juliet played as a bit of a strumpet and Romeo cast as something of a wet fish. And with tunes from Abba and Diana Ross skilfully woven into the plot, the hour galloped towards its nicely contrived and quite hilarious denouement.

Characters were played in full commedia dell’arte style, which was particularly effective in keeping it light and humorous whilst moving the plot purposely forward at an attention keeping pace. That some of the characters became caricatures was also no bad thing, with the actor playing Tybalt/Paris being particularly amusing. A Pythonesque pantomime dame nurse kept smiles on people’s faces, the King was wonderfully child-like and Romeo and Juliet’s wedding night exploits with a game of Twister had the audience in stitches. And the bounteous innuendo floated over the heads of the kids in the audience but had the adults roaring their appreciation.

But the best bits were when things started to come apart at the seams, towards the end of the show. Someone didn’t appear when they should have done, leaving Romeo ad-libbing for Scotland on stage, swords broke mid-fight, leaving the protagonists waving at thin air and a couple of other bloopers generating some hilarious comic asides that added the icing on the cake of a nicely conceived piece. Such a shame it’s all come to an end.