When I was fourteen, fifteen, sixteen even, I don’t think I was that fearless. I think I was like a lot of other adolescents. I was awkward, unsure of myself and wary to try things that weren’t of the familiar or safe kind.
I wish I had befriended people like those actors I saw this evening. Peers that could have given me a kick in the ass!
The ‘well jel’ attitude was brought about after seeing a flooring production of Romeo and Juliet at the Ovalhouse Theatre in South London. This production came out of The Ovalhouse’s “Truth About Youth: 2011-2012” season and boy do these young actors and actresses show their acting chops. And taking on some of Shakespeare’s greatest roles ever written no less!
Truth About Youth, run by the Co-Operation Foundation, elected The Ovalhouse among other venues to house varying productions. As Reuben Massiah, a Young Associate said of the programme’s aim, “[It’s] to challenge the picture that some media would have us believe, by showing the strength and potential of young people.”
This was truly smart and innovative theatre at its finest. The Ovalhouse and co. elected to perform the famous love-story in promenade, using the entirety of the Ovalhouse and the surrounding area to set the stage of Mantua.
The play begins in the cafeteria of the Ovalhouse done up as a cafeteria of a sixth form and immediately these young students burst forth through the doors and the audience is propelled into the action of the play. A lunchtime fight breaks forth between the Montague’s and Capulet’s and immediately the audience is met with a world of anger and fraction.
The play adapted amazingly to a sixth form setting. The dynamic between students and headmasters and the bureaucracy that goes on in public schools was fitting without losing Shakespeare’s poesy and original meaning.
I was quite impressed with the interactive nature of the production. Smartphones sharing video messages with the audience, twitter feeds, Facebook stalking of characters not seen and Skype conversations between Juliet and her father. It was current, it was timely, and all the while it felt sincere and not contrived.
The acting was phenomenal on all parts but I must mention Cory Hippolyte (Romeo), Natalia Biglou (Juliet), Jamael Westman (Benvolio), and Camilla De Oliveira(Mercutio). These four actors alongside their company of peers, prove that these seasoned roles can be trusted in the hands of young and perhaps green actors and actresses. They fully enveloped their characters and it was such a treat to watch, with amazing direction by Toby Clarke.
I urge you to go down and participate in the Truth About Youth season at the Ovalhouse. It will be worth your while and truly an eye-opening and heartfelt experience.
Performed at Ovalhouse.