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Romeo and Juliet: loose highlights in the Amsterdam Forest

Huge passenger trunks, like those at the airport, are stacked crosswise on the stage in the Amsterdam Forest. This immense rendition forms the backdrop of Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare in the Amsterdam Bostheater's performance. Director Ingejan Ligthart Schenk stages Shakespeare's classic modern, with acrobatics by the Tent Circustheater group and musical input by De Veenfabriek.

This mixing of arts, according to the makers, should increase the collective power, but the drama 'Romeo and Juliet' here nevertheless does not have the impact intended. Indeed, most of the poetic lyrics of this romantic love story have been replaced by cabaret-like one-liners, breakneck acrobatic scenes and songs that add little. Rather, this play is an entertaining retro-vaudeville show with some loose highlights.

Director Ingejan Ligthart Schenk and lyricist Erik Bindervoet have Romeo & Juliet condensed into an hour-and-a-half performance. It is not the text that is paramount but the actions. After the quick introduction of the two rival Veronese families, that of Romeo Montaque (marked as O on the trendy clothes) and that of Juliet Capulet (X), it is straight away fighting. Not sword fighting but hand-to-hand combat with brilliant swinging and climbing scenes on and over the trunks.

Testosterone vent

All that action should give the viewer a sense of war, but the emphasis is maddeningly more on eroticism and wantonness. Mercutio in particular (an amusingly charismatic role by Sander Plukaard), Romeo's friend, is a testosterone junkie. He grabs his friends by their crotches and does not shy away from kissing them. Juliet's lover (amusingly and loosely played by Camilla Siegertsz) is also vulgar. You expect an overprotective figure guarding Julia's virginity, but she does the opposite. The effect is that she constantly distracts you from the drama.

Sadettin Kirmiziyüz, in his role of Brother Lorenzo, is one of the few characters allowed to speak beautiful Shakespearean language. His actions, such as the blessing of marriage, are too quick and have little bearing. He has no pedantic epilogue. De Veenfabriek's underground sound and songs accompany the scenes, but they do not always support the emotional events. In fact, it sometimes backfires.


And yet there are memorable moments. Like the famous balcony scene of Romeo (Ward Kerremans) and Juliet (Yara Alink). This is where Shakespeare comes in. Loving words and physical play by these talented young actors create a lasting tension. Another highlight, in which all art disciplines do come together, is when Juliet is seemingly dead and carried away. A few Tent acrobats line up and catch her body, tentative music sounds, she is laid out on the end of a trunk. It's an abstract image that finally, in all those threaded scenes, manages to move.

Good to know
William Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet in the adaptation by Ingejan Ligthart Schenk (direction) and Erik Bindervoet (text adaptation) by Amsterdams Bostheater, Tent Circustheater and de Veenfabriek. Still to be seen until 3 September 2016 from Tuesday to Saturday starting at 9pm.

Rudolf Hunnik

Rudolf Hunnik is a cultural journalist, trainer and film programmer. For more information visit www.diversityathome.nlView Author posts

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