Arts Reviews Culture

An Afternoon at Sherman Cymru

Romeo and Juliet at the Sherman Theatre
Credit: Kirsten McTernan

A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited to watch the rehearsals for Sherman Cymru’s upcoming performance of Romeo and Juliet. A select few young critics and reviewers were invited to view the rehearsal process and even we had the opportunity chat with director Rachel O’Riordan afterwards.

After arriving and exchanging a few introductions, we sat down to watch the cast rehearse some of the most important scenes of the play. Present in every scene during  the rehearsal, Chris Gordon who is making his professional stage debut in Romeo and Juliet play’s the male lead, Romeo. The first scene we watched displayed Gordon interacting with Linden Walcott-Burton as Benvolio and Scott Reid as Mercutio. The dynamics of the relationship between these three friends was the focus of the scene. They were rehearsing with a focus on the physical relationship between them, with lots of hugging and play fighting.

One thing that stood out to me as we watched was the variety of accents used throughout the rehearsal period. We heard Shakespeare’s famous rhetoric relayed with Scottish, Irish and even Jamaican accents. During the Q&A session with O’Riordan, she told us that the accents were all intentional as she felt that the accents gave the language a new edge and rhythm. An interesting take.

After watching an intensely physical rehearsal period, we then witnessed a read-through with Gordon, Sean O’Callaghan and Anita Reynolds. The slowing pace of this rehearsal combined with the intense discussion about Shakespeare’s beautiful language displayed to me the real care that this production is taking to focus distinctly on the words of the texts. Too often with Shakespeare are the complicated lines thrown away, but as I listened to an intense debate on whether one should say ‘banished’ or banish-ed’ I realised that this was not to be one of those productions. Well done and thank you to all the cast involved and I would encourage everyone, whether you are a Shakespeare fan or not, to go and watch this new production at the Sherman Theatre.

Sherman Cymru’s contemporary version of Romeo and Juliet will be playing from the 2nd -18th October at the Sherman Theatre.