Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

10/11/2017 - 18/11/2017

Production Details


BlackBox Creative’s 2017 retelling of William Shakespeare’s classic tale reimagines the ill-fated lovers as inmates in a New Zealand women’s correctional facility. 

The fictional Verona Correctional Facility for Females plays home to director/producer Mel Martin’s adaptation at The Meteor, in Hamilton.

With some male characters necessary, the cast is predominantly female to work within the prison setting that has been chosen. 

“The challenge will be in creating unique elements to the production without altering the script too much, which I think audiences will find particularly interesting,” Martin said.

In the adaptation of course, the Capulet gang are at odds with the Montague’s.

But add to that Romeo (Kate Booker) inside for a crime she can’t tell anyone about; a Juliet (Sherrie Roue-Walker) who is discovering a new side of her sexuality; a transgendered Nurse (Laurie Hayes) who fights to be himself in a system that doesn’t recognise his gender, happening under Prince’s (Danny Bailey) watch, all within the confines of Shakespeare’s original text.

Join BlackBox Creative at The Meteor in November to see how it all unfolds.
10 – 18 November 2017
Adults $25
Students/Seniors/Concession $15
Tickets available at

PLEASE NOTE: M15 – Parental guidance is recommended




Producer/Director: Mel Martin
Production Assistant: Hannah Pope
Script Advisor: Conor Maxwell
Stage Manager: Jonathan Wilce
Costume Design: Vicki Buchanan
Costume Assistant: Leslie Wilson
Props Manager: Charlotte Mann
Lighting Design/Operator: Callum Braithwaite
Sound Design: Mel Martin
Sound Operator: Hannah Pope
Hair/Make Up: Katy Smith

Photographer: Peter Kirby
Poster/Programme Design: Chris Zampese
Venue Technician: Guy Coker


Theatre ,

Highs and Lows

Review by Ross MacLeod 11th Nov 2017

While I’ve always had a certain affection for Romeo and Juliet I also find it a piece of strengths and weaknesses. There is wonderful language, colourful characters and an effectively simple (and familiar) plot that has been reinvented and reshaped into a great many forms. It also has protagonists that are fairly thin in character and can be hard to relate to. Like the text it is working from, this production of Romeo and Juliet has its ups and downs, levelling out into a good, watchable piece of theatre with some fresh takes. 

Set in a women’s prison, the play entwines the setting to great effect in both narrative and character. Not merely just a novelty of staging or stunt casting, the world of the prison in entwined in how events unfold and how characters react, allowing for a different take on the familiar. [More


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Exciting, fresh interpretation of a well-known classic

Review by Cate Prestidge 11th Nov 2017

I race in to grab one of the last seats for the opening night of this ambitious production from BlackBox director Mel Martin. Their collaboration with Small Dynamite seems an excellent match. Both companies have a commitment to producing original work, providing opportunities for new actors and making challenging theatre. It’s great to see a full house.

Their re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet pushes the boundaries as they flip mainstream gender binaries and set our tale of star crossed lovers within the walls of the Verona Correctional Facility for Females (V.C.F.F.)

Romeo (Kate Booker) and Juliet (Sherrie Roue-Walker) belong to different prison ‘tribes’ and, as with Shakespeare’s original, their love places them in conflict with their allegiances within the prison walls. They tackle their first lead roles with confidence; Booker brings a thoughtfulness to her Romeo, and Roue-Walker shows appropriate innocence and defiance as Juliet.

The confined setting works surprisingly well with action taking place in a multi-purpose set depicting cells, the corridors, visitors room, wardens office, gym and chapel.

Conor Maxwell’s script adaptation leaves plenty of dialogue to progress the scenes and extend the characterisation, but not so much that it doesn’t work in the chosen context. A few careful pronoun adjustments reflect gender, otherwise the lines are as in the original.

Martin manages to work most of the roles into this setting well, with Capulet (Amber Clapp) dominant as leader, supported by her Lady (Julia Watkins), Prince (Danny Bailey) as Warden, Nurse (Laurie Hayes) as Juliet’s protective cell mate, and Friar Laurence (Nick Clothier) as the prison chaplain.  

The real delight of this adaptation for me is the freshness of the dialogue, and seeing the familiar spoken with new interpretation and nuance. This is especially so with the Nurse’s lines, delivered with a barely civil malevolence by Hayes. Her portrayal of tough, nuggety protection for Juliet is excellent, and I love the twist with the ‘nurse’s fan’. I also like the delivery of ‘Queen Mab’ by Andrew T Lyall as Mercutio.

Watkins and Clapp were excellent, and along with Hayes, are the most successful characters for me in the context of this adaptation. They embody the power and allegiances within the V.C.F.F. and their experience shows in accomplished timing and delivery.  Pip Smith is full of energy as the deranged Tybalt and lifts every scene she is in, and Nick Clothier shows his experience and skill as Friar. Making the most of a smaller role, Kelsie Morland is lively and dynamic as Benvolio.

Martin has her ensemble working well, with an effective and noisy fight scene and well-paced verbal barrages from leads and supporting characters all overlapping. It is chaotic and successful. The production really lifts in places where the full cast is on stage, accompanied by background music.

While many of the more solemn moments draw the audience in, some dialogue is too fast for clarity and I am not thoroughly convinced by the initial ‘moment’ of love at first sight for our Romeo and Juliet. I wonder if more time could be been taken over this, or soundtrack used to focus the audience’s engagement and enhance the impact.

There are some fun modern twists to established plot lines and much to like about this exciting, fresh interpretation of a well-known classic. It brings something new to audiences and fulfils the ‘all-inclusive and accessible’, ‘high-quality’ and ‘dynamic’ theatre aspirations of both Black Box and Small Dynamite Theatre. Hamilton is lucky to have them. 


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