the 1st Edinburgh Shakespeare Festival as the
number one theatre event in Edinburgh and the
number two theatre event in Scotland.
is very amusing... a summer night by the fjord is beautiful.
The company is impressively cast with original characters...
Even from the top of the amphitheatre we have close contact
with the hunt for love and the game of life.”
"Over the past
couple of years I have seem them develope to such an extent
that there are no genuine challengers to their tag of "Britian's
largest and best-loved open-air Shakespeare company"
The British Theatre
excellent package; it succeeds largely because it allows the
play to speak for itself.
every street corner this summer you’ll find a production
of Romeo and Juliet on offer. That being so, there has to be
a special reason to go to see any one in particular. With this
solid and gimmick-free interpretation director Robert
J Williamson gives a whole clutch of reasons.
mainly down to the acting, which, not only in the main roles,
is always better than your average and often superb. There’s
inventive use of the built-for-outdoors up-and-down set, some
nice fight work and convincing Elizabethan togs - which, admittedly,
these days almost counts as a gimmick.
doesn’t throw the ball scene away, as some directors
do. He has the lovers (Sean B Brosnan and Liana
Weafer) making clear their mutual attraction against
the background of a beautiful song done a cappella by Natasha
Kemball. Weafer gives an excellent performance - her
speech at the end makes you want to see her in arguably greater,
more mature roles like, say, Lady Macbeth.
Romeo’s scenes with Friar Laurence it isn’t so
much callow youth being guided by older man as two men in mature,
sometimes bitter, confrontation. Christopher Robert’s Friar
is masterly; there’s a measured authority and humanity
about his performance, which makes his stricken flight at the
end especially poignant. He speaks the text beautifully.
fact, quality of line-delivery, for instance by Maxine
Gregory and David Davies playing
the Capulets, is a feature of this production. Being early
Shakespeare, there’s a lot of rhyme; this and the rest
of the great poetry are always done magnificently.
comes not only from the Nurse (Mina Anwar with
a tripe-and-onions accent), which is to be expected, but from Liam
Gerrard as Peter the servant.
you let this play speak for itself it usually works; it certainly
major attraction of the evening was Sean Brosnan,
son of Pierce, who shared one of the title roles, with Liana
Weafer playing Juliet to his Romeo.
Talented, Brosnan will improve technically as his career goes on
but for now audiences will see a young and raw actor and should
As the play matures so do the performances of the two actors – when
Weafer's Juliet learns of the death of her cousin Tybalt and the
banishment of her husband Romeo, it evokes strongly the madness
of another of Shakespeare's tragic heroines Ophelia.
greatest strength of this show is the typically strong performances
of the ensemble around the main parts – in particular Christopher
Robert as the Friar Laurence and David Davies as
know it’s British summertime when you find yourself in
the great outdoors enjoying the works of William Shakespeare.
Of all the companies keeping this great tradition alive, the
best I have seen has to be British Shakespeare Company. Tonight’s
performance of “Romeo & Juliet” starred a certain Sean
B Brosnan playing Romeo. Displaying his father’s
flair for a commanding presence and strong voice, Brosnan shined
in the role, bringing a believable mixture of vulnerability
and nobility. Another fine newcomer, Liana Weafer played
Juliet opposite him with grace and charm.
faithfully to the text, the production brings out the humour
present in the play but no more, and successfully invokes the
tragedy of the tale too. Liam Gerrard’s comic
turn as the servant Peter was a particular show-stopper. It’s
an old story but one that will always be relevant and when
produced like this, it still wields an incredible power. A
great summer’s night out."
Brosnan, the son of James Bond actor Pierce Brosnan
making his professional theatre debut in this tour, gave
us a handsome and dashing Romeo although his limited experience
struggled to bring out the full tragedy of the role. In the
other title role, Liana Weafer's slight
stature was a positive aspect of her impersonation but her
performance was perhaps a little too assured, lacking the
naievety of the teenage Juliet. It was an excellent performance
nonetheless; masterly at times, particularly her tear streaked
anguish when Juliet learns of the death of her cousin Tybalt
and the banishment of her husband Romeo. In the supporting
roles Christopher Robert's Friar Laurence
was exemplary, every inch the supporting father figure, confidante
and concerned friend of the young couple. Director Robert
J Williamson (a standout in 'A Midsummer Nights
Dream' at the same venue) gave us a brash and assured Mercutio,
at odds with Luciano Dodero's angry and
brooding Tybalt, whilst Robert Crumpton delivered
a strong character performance as the peacemaker Benvolio. Natasha
Kemball's Rosaline was almost totally absent from
the story, with nothing made of her slighting by Romeo when
he switched his affection to Juliet. Her performance was
however notable for the beautiful clear soprano of her a
capella singing at the ballroom at death scenes. Mina
Anwar revelled in the role of Nurse, making no apologies
for her rough Lancashire accent and tackling the role with
a laconic and down to earth nature. Verdict:
A solid no-nonsense production of the Shakespearean classic."
manager Robert J. Williamson threw himself
into every last minute detail of the set-up before stepping
into costume to play Nick Bottom, the weaver, who heads up
one of the most incompetent amateur dramatic troupes in the
history of theatre. No comparison with Mr Williamson's excellent
British Shakespeare Company is intended. Every member of the
sixteen-strong cast gleams in this animated production, directed
with his sharp eye for expressive detail and innate sense of
pace by Williamson himself. His Bottom (if I may phrase it
like this!) is an endearing, utterly watchable character. You
can hear every syllable - even when he is encumbered with the
ass's head in the hilarious seduction scene. David
Davies is a powerful and sonorous King of the Fairies
and he is beautifully matched by Mina Anwar's delicate
Titania. The legendary Wayne Sleep returns
to bring his own unique balletic grace to the role of the impish
Puck. Such is the consistent strength of ensemble in Williamson's
company, the star names rarely outshine the other performers.
case in point might be the casting of Sean B. Brosnan as
Romeo. This has inevitably created some excitement - he of
course has a famous Dad and is given top billing. This is perhaps
unusual for an actor who graduated from the Central School
of Speech and Drama only last year and whose professional theatre
debut this is. Be that as it may, Brosnan junior looks and
sounds as though he might have been born to play this role.
His superbly nuanced performance left the inescapable impression
that we were watching a star in the making. Liana Weafer,
his Juliet, has already notched up an impressive list of Shakespearean
roles at London's Globe Theatre. Weafer heartbreakingly conveys
the headstrong Juliet's vulnerability and her sense of isolation.
Marvellous though this pair undoubtedly are, they are the first
among equals in an outstanding cast. This year's attractive
set designs - a small platform flanked by curved staircases,
conifers and statues - places most of the action on the grass,
with ample space for the actors to run on and off stage. Mia
Flodquist's flowing Elizabethan costumes - cobweb
grey and moss green for the Fairies in A Midsummer Night's
Dream - are a feast for the eyes. The fading light of an English
Summer evening and the shadow of these ancient Cloisters casts
a spell of enchantment. It is hardly surprising that the Leeds
Shakespeare Festival has built up such a cult following over
the past twelve years.” Geoffrey
Mogridge, Ilkley Gazette and Wharfedale Observer