Rome & Juliet
When: Feb 24, Penang Performing Arts Centre, Feb 26 at Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) Ipoh, and Feb 27- March 10, PJ Live Arts.
Parental Advisory: 12 years and above.
Tickets at RM60-RM75. Visit www.tix.my, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (017) 2289849.
FOUR girls are slaying Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet under the Handlebards banner.
Hailing from Britain, Elle Dillon-Reams, Grace Cheatle, Gabriella Margulies and Lotte Tickner will take on 19 roles for this famous tragic love story about two young lovers caught in the family fued of the Montagues and the Capulets.
In Shakespeare’s tale, Romeo and Juliet fall in love at a ball, and marry in secret in the cell of Friar Lawrence. The next day, Tybalt, Juliet’s cousin, challenges Romeo to a duel as he attended the Capulet ball without invitation.
Romeo, now Tybalt’s kinsman by marriage, vows not to fight, and his friend Mercutio takes his place. Tybalt stabs Mercutio, and in a fit of rage, Romeo kills Tybalt, resulting in his banishment from Verona. Juliet drinks a potion which makes her a living corpse, so that she could escape with Romeo, once the friar has sent him her letter. All does not end well, as many Malaysians already know.
The all-female Handlebard troupe had their first outing last year, cycling to over 50 venues across the UK to perform Romeo and Juliet and The Taming Of The Shrew.
Co-founded by Callum Brodie and Tom Dixon, the actors underwent three rounds of auditions first.
Since 2013, the environmentally sustainable theatre company has gone full gas in the United Kingdom, winning good reviews for their highly visual and very accessible style of Shakespeare. Last year, the all-male troupe performed A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Petaling Jaya Live Arts Centre, presented by Gardner & Wife Theatre.
Says Handlebards founding actor and its co- artistic director, Dixon, getting four actors to take on multiple roles can be “quite tricky”.
“But that’s where all the fun of the show comes from. It’s like solving a puzzle, and each night the audience get to see the four actors attempt to put on a 12-character show with just four actors and a few costumes and props.”
For the actors, doing so many characters is tiring. “The actors are on stage for the entire show with hardly a minute’s rest. It’s very carefully choreographed to make costume changes as smooth as possible, so we have to be alert at all times whilst also entertaining the audience.”
With an obvious passion for the Bard’s works, Romeo and Juliet’s director Nel Crouch says she loves the scene where Romeo and Juliet first meet at the ball. “It’s a beautifully written scene and shows the first spark of love in such a wonderful way.”
For actor Dillon-Reams, she says Juliet’s “Gallop Apace” speech at the start of the second half of the show is full of beautiful poetry. “And, it’s my favourite part of the show as we’ve set the whole speech to music.”