Review by Oli Burley
SCRAWLED in chalk, several strides between the Globe and the
Tate Modern, lie the words 'Love thy enemy', pulling eyes
to the pavement.
The advice resonates now as it did in Shakespeare's time, but,
like Romeo and Juliet - the first of three plays in the
Season of Star-Crossed Lovers - it struggles to make a
It is not that Tim Carroll's version of the two young lovers
and their struggle against the hatred between their families lacks
fluency and verve - far from it.
The inventive opening street brawl and the high-octane sword
fight between a strident Mercutio (James Garnon) and Tybalt (Simon
Muller) are peaks in a work that is not shy to entertain.
Rather, it is the emotional dynamism between Romeo (Tom Burke)
and Kananu Kirimi's Juliet that, in a play so dependent on feeling,
comes up short.
Burke, in fact, is somewhat appealing as the oft-disheveled son
of Montague, at his best when cock-sure and confrontational.
No 'flower of courtesy' would dare target Juliet so directly,
yet Burke's passion is cooled by Kirimi's under-cooked manner.
There's no question she can play the part of Juliet, but, at
times - particularly in her opening scenes - Kirimi does not seem
part of the play.
As a result, the pair are not bound in authenticity by strength
of feeling from the start, and their detachment is made all the
more clear by the sparse Globe stage whose uncluttered
space is otherwise refreshing.
Kirimi does grow into her role as the tragedy builds towards
its climax and the over-bearing influence of her nurse, camped-up
by Betty Bourne, diminishes.
The trials of first love are initially distant as Bourne, together
with John Paul Connollys effervescent Peter, style the play
more in the mode of romantic comedy than tragedy.
Carroll does not deliberately seek an overtly upbeat mood, but
by placing emphasis on the vagaries of fortune, brings freshness
to a work that can be tarnished by over-familiarity.
John McEnerys vividly anguished Friar Lawrence aids that
process and highlights the important role of confidante
that is at the heart of so much of Shakespeares work.
The part of confessor-advisor is one that is explored further
in the upcoming productions of Much Ado About Nothing (from
May 23) and Measure for Measure (from June 18).
If nothing else, the likes of the nurse and Friar Lawrence remind
us of the human instinct to help others as good a reason
to celebrate this play as the arrival of the new Globe season
Our picture shows: Juliet (Kananu Kirimi) & Romeo (Tom
Burke). Photo: Andy Bradshaw