Juliet Forster has directed two plays for this year’s Shakespeare’s Rose Theatre at Blenheim. While her take on Midsummer Night’s Dream is interesting, she has overshadowed herself with her Romeo and Juliet.

The show opens quite slowly. The whole first act explores the comical aspect of the Bard’s text and while Romeo and Juliet’s love is believable, and indeed beautiful, it is the second act that is worth waiting for, because it is an absolute masterpiece.

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Given a cast of talented actors – especially Ella Dunlop as Juliet, John Macaulay as Capulet and Emilio Iannucci as a fantastic Romeo – Ms Forster has created a very classic (one might even say, conservative) show, which defends itself by stressing several points that make this nearly 430 year-old play perfectly topical and understandable for today’s audience.

Firstly, the director made great use of the fact, that despite Romeo and Juliet being a tragedy, it is openly sexual and stuffed with funny lines which makes it way easier to watch than Shakespeare’s classic tragedies.

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But what makes Ms Forster’s take on the play an unforgettable experience, is her exploration of Juliet’s character – she stresses the fact, that it is she who is a truly tragic character. Romeo’s situation is not difficult. He cries a lot, but the truth is, that after secretly marring Juliet (and consummating the marriage) he leaves (he is banished from Verona) where he sighs and prays his love, being more a boyish character than a fully grown and responsible man.

It is Juliet who stays behind and faces all the difficulties which come from their decision to marry. She must choose between her love for Romeo and her cousin Tybalt, whom Romeo kills in a street brawl. She must face the fact, that she is nothing more than the property of her father, who chooses a husband for her to his liking (the scene when Capulet yells at his daughter is an absolutely unbelievable lesson in upbringing from the Bard).

Finally, it is she who must find a way out of this mess – and she does. But it is he who ruins the happy ending, and, with that, this 430 year-old text says something disturbingly true about contemporary patriarchal societies.

Rose Theatre continues until September 7.