Oxford University Dramatic Society (OUDS) grabbed Shakespeare’s overworked tragedy by the throat, painted it with a coat of sheer brilliance, and left companies like the RSC with lots to think about.

Set in the near future, not only do the star-crossed lovers encounter political strife from their feuding families, but OUDS also explores the social restraints of a same-sex relationship by making Romeo a woman.

It meant the words were given a whole new meaning, while never deviating from the script (except for the added ‘she’), a credit to the level of talent across the entire cast.

Of course, there were those who shone. Romeo (Emma D’arcy) managed to deliver an unwavering energy to her part of Romeo. Lord Capulet (Leo Suter) was styled as an aggressive, egotistical, party animal, entirely recognisable in a modern context and utterly brilliant.

In particular, his scene with Juliet, where he scolds her disobedience, was one of the highlights of the play. And Helena Wilson brought a brilliant fierceness and authority to Juliet.

The set was a nod to the 90s, with hi-tops, bomber jackets and netting, whilst taking an ultra-modern slant.

Musically, Thomas Stafford should also be commended; his electronic mixes contributed to the theme perfectly as well as the sense of urgency that the play delivered, making two and a half hours fly by.

The incredible choreography was a tribute to their talent and director Thomas Bailey whose fight scenes were slick, the raving at the Capulets’ ball stylish, and Romeo and Juliet’s lust-filled teenage romance spot on. So if you wave your money in the direction of any Shakespeare play this summer – let it be this.

The start of their world tour is off to a fantastic start which can only get better. OUDS’ innovation can only be marvelled at.


Romeo and Juliet is at The Said Business School Amphitheatre until July 24. oxfordplayhouse.com/ticketsoxford