Tobacco Factory presents: Romeo and Juliet

Paapa Essiedu as Romeo %26 Daisy Whalley as Juliet © Craig Fuller-1

[Photo credit]

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?

If you didn’t get the memo ladies, he was in Cheltenham last night. A production by the Tobacco Factory Theatre, this rendition of the famous Shakespeare play takes on a unique performance from a modern-day perspective. Whilst I’m familiar with the story I didn’t study the text as a teen and I didn’t care too much for Baz Lurhman’s movie version (despite adoring Leo DiCaprio), so I went in with an open mind and decided to watch it like it was the first time.

A trip to the theatre means dressing up, an excuse to wear something fancy so I threw on one of my favourite evening dresses, stepped into a pair of strappy heels and painted my lips with a vampy pout.

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Lips | MAC, Rebel

Dress | Wallis

Bag | Zara

Heels | BHS

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Luckily my friend Keri also turned up looking oh-so lovely in a dress too. Sharing our outfit deets with each other over a G&T pre-show, it was soon time to take our seats. The Everyman Theatre is pretty special, from the stunning decor details and that ceiling, we found ourselves snapping away for the most Instagram worthy shot and compulsory selfies until the show began.

The set was basic yet effortlessly effective with only two set changes, allowing the two young star-crossed lovers tell their tragic love story with no stage distraction. There is a ‘rave’ as opposed to a ball, and gone are the long gowns and instead welcome jeans and cropped T-Shirts. Aside from the two main characters, brilliantly played by Daisy Whalley and Paapa Essiedu, I have to mention Oliver Hoare’s execution of Mercutio. He plays a convincing class clown, always drunk and slightly offbeat, and completely captivating to watch. I felt more sadness at the time for his demise than dare I say, Romeo and Juliet’s – but this could be down to the headache I was suffering from, which only a bag of Maltesers could fix.

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Juliet comes across lonely, with a ruling father shouting threats if she goes against his orders of marrying Paris and a mother who simply echos her husbands demands, she doesn’t really have anyone in her life that understands the heartache that her 14 year old self is going through. Remember when you were a teen, if you were banned from seeing your crush it would lead to a door slam and a stroppy tantrum – not a death! The handsome Paapa plays a sharp tongued Romeo, a catch with the ladies and the type of guy who would sure be one of the ‘popular’ kids at school. His relationship with Juliet is something you might see dragged out in an episode of Hollyoaks, one of the reasons why I enjoyed this raw performance so much – an old tale becomes a new-day account of an intense teenage infatuation. It makes the old Romeo and Juliet look outdated, so I urge you to go and book yourself a ticket and fall in love again with this brilliant performance.

You can check out all the tour dates here.


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