‘Saddest, funniest, naughtiest’: Bell Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet starts next week

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‘Saddest, funniest, naughtiest’: Bell Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet starts next week

Romeo and Juliet
Words by Staff Writer

Bell Shakespeare will present a new production of Romeo and Juliet this winter at Arts Centre Melbourne for a two-week season from 14 – 29 July 2023.

Artistic Director Peter Evans’ beautifully intimate version of the play stars Jacob Warner (Macbeth, Hamlet) and Rose Riley (Hamlet, Richard 3) as the star-crossed lovers, giving a more mature exploration of the characters.

This casting, as well as the roles of Mercutio and Paris to be played by women, reflects Evans’ continued interest over the past few years in selecting actors for what they bring to a role rather than being the correct age or gender, offering interesting new insights into the characters and storyline.

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The production gives audiences a closer look at arguably Shakespeare’s most famous play, delving into the intensity and the heartbreak of this evocative tragedy. The story of the young lovers’ chance meeting unfolds against an enchanting starry sky. Their forbidden love leads them down a dangerous path, and they will risk everything to break free of the unending, violent feud between their families.

Artistic Director Peter Evans said: “I am excited that perennial favourite Romeo and Juliet is our first full production in The Neilson Nutshell. This early tragedy from Shakespeare is endlessly fascinating. Romeo and Juliet is of course the saddest of sad plays but also one of the funniest and naughtiest tragedies ever written. It is a tragedy of accidents where a community’s selfish, ancient feud fatally impacts the young people. In The Neilson Nutshell this will be raw and contemporary, and you will be up close and personal with this great play. I am pleased to continue my collaboration with Rose Riley and Jacob Warner as Juliet and Romeo. Funny, irreverent, and fearless actors who will take these great roles by the scruff of the neck. Not to be missed. We are also pleased to be taking our ‘Nutshell’ production to the semi-circular space of the Fairfax Studio at the Arts Centre in Melbourne, so wonderful for Shakespeare.”

Alongside Warner and Riley, the cast includes Bell Shakespeare Founding Artistic Director John Bell’s daughter Lucy Bell, Blazey Best, James Evans, Alex King, Robert Menzies, Kyle Morrison, Monica Sayers and Leinad Walker.

The creative team includes Set and Costume Designer Anna Tregloan, Lighting Designer Benjamin Cisterne, Composer and Sound Designer Max Lyandvert, Movement and Fight Director Nigel Poulton, Dramaturg James Evans, and Text Consultant Ben Crystal.

Tickets available here.