Little Theatre, Library Bldg, 2 Queens Drive, Lower Hutt

28/02/2018 - 03/03/2018

Production Details

A thrilling, modern adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, romeojuliet@twilight, the concept tells the timeless tale of star-cross’d lovers from the perspective of age.

Setting: Twilight Retirement Village, present day.

Story: Romeo and his old friend Mercutio are independent Villa residents. Juliet is a permanent assisted-care resident with early onset dementia.

Juliet and Romeo fall in love and wish to marry, spending their twilight years together.

Juliet’s granddaughter, Lady Capulet, is concerned for her grandmother so late in life, and seeks to end the relationship.

Paris, an elder law specialist, is hired by Lady Capulet to persuade Juliet to sign power of attorney over to her before her dementia becomes worse. If she insists on her relationship with Romeo, she will be moved to another complex.

Juliet and her Romeo cannot face separation from each other and choose to remain forever joined in death.

About the Show

The adaptation mixes the original text with new dialogue, and focuses on the passionate and ultimately tragic love story of Romeo and Juliet. An original score by young upcoming composer Sam Jones accompanies the show.

Venue: Lower Hutt Little Theatre, 2 Queens Drive, Lower Hutt. Venue is accessible to those with impairments.
Opening Night: Wednesday 28 February 2018 – 6pm
Thursday 1 & Friday 2 March 2018 – 6pm
Matinee: Saturday 3 March 2018 – 4pm
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Romeo:  Steven Ray
Juliet:  Perry Piercy
Mercutio K.C.Kelly
Nurse 1:  Hilary Norris
Nurse 2:  Karen Elliot
Gregory:  Edward Campbell
Lady C:  Sabrina Martin
Paris:  Alex Greig
Benvolio:  Bob Rowell
Dr Friar:  Rochelle Vinson
Nurse 3:  Celia Hubard 
Residents of Summerset Villages in Trentham, Aotea and Kapiti Coast

Production team:
Director:  Geraldine Brophy
Composer and Musician:  Sam Jones
Production Design:  Geraldine Brophy
Lighting Advisor:  Richard Hook
Lighting operator:  Lee Patrick
A/V design:  Lee Patrick
Stage management:  Lee Patrick, Karen Elliot
Props makers:  Bob Rowell, Karen Elliot
Graphics:  Hannah McKenzie Doornebosch 

Theatre ,

Both absorbing and troubling

Review by John Smythe 28th Feb 2018

Having launched NextStage Theatre in 2015 with her comedic two-hander Sleeping Around, and directed the even broader comedy Desperate Huttwives last year, Geraldine Brophy brings a classically poetic tone to her adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, romeojuliet@twilight.

Set in the present day Twilight Retirement Village, Romeo (Steven Ray), Juliet (Perry Piercy), Mercutio (K C. Kelly) and Gregory (Edward Campbell) are ageing village residents – a premise similar to the Butterfly Creek Theatre Troupe’s Bard In The Yard/ NZ Fringe 2007 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by Florence McFarlane.

The difference is that while BCTT played Shakespeare’s full play only slightly tweaked, Brophy blends portions of the Bard’s text with new dialogue and reassigns roles and functions within a plot that echoes elements of the Romeo and Juliet we all know well.

My initial feeling is that romeojuliet@twilight seems to rely on our having reasonable knowledge of the original story. On the other hand the inversions, twists and deviations are so numerous there may be value in not becoming preoccupied with the differences and abandoning oneself to the way it is.

The pressures of NZ Festival and Fringe commitments mean I am only able to view and review the final dress rehearsal, at which I’m the sole audience member. The seasoned professionals – mentioned above, and Hilary Norris as Nurse 1, Sabrina Martin as Juliet’s granddaughter Lady Capulet and Alex Greig as her co-conspirator Paris – are good and ready. Others may rise to the occasion with more confidence when there’s a larger audience in, although the pervading air of bewilderment from actual residents of Summerset Villages in Trentham, Aotea and Kapiti Coast is not unconducive to the premise and setting.

Large black and white chess pieces, representing the “two households” holding a grudge “where civil blood makes civil hands unclean” are clustered on an otherwise bare stage, and the costumes are black and white too (Brophy is also the production designer).

This time, however, the grudge is not “ancient” but fresh: Juliet, who has early onset dementia, has fallen in love with the equally aged but very spritely Romeo. Believing her inheritance is threatened, Lady Capulet – in contrast to the marriage to Paris, demanded in the original – conspires with Paris to have her grandmother moved to another facility “on Thursday next”, just as soon as she has signed her will. There is much judicious wordplay on “will”, of course.

So it is Juliet who is threatened with the banishment that provokes her speedy marriage to Romeo, facilitated by Rochelle Vinson’s Dr Friar, who seems as bemused by it all as her other patients are. And before that it is Paris who causes the demise of Mercutio – with none of the revenge-wrought consequences and subsequent bungling that inform Shakespeare’s tragedy.

What is tragic in the Brophy version, as profoundly portrayed by Perry Piercy, is Juliet’s awareness of her tenuous grip on an increasingly elusive reality and the looming loss of personal control, integrity and identity. Steven Ray’s Romeo is full of compassion and love for her in this state. I guess it is grief for what she is losing, and what they together are losing before it has had a chance to flourish, that causes him (spoiler alert) to enter into a suicide pact with her despite his own apparent good health.

The way I see it, the poetic text being spoken – by the lovers especially – represents the inner feelings of people who may not be so eloquent and articulate in real life. Conversely K C Kelly’s oxygen-tank-huffing Mercutio could be a retired classics professor given to linguistic flourishes.

Giving Mercutio the lines written for Sampson in the salacious banter with Gregory about ‘maidenhead’ works well: Kelly and Eddie Campbell make an excellent duo of reprobates. This makes me wonder why their casual old-school bawdiness in not exploited more in their scene with the Nurse. Hilary Norris brings an impressive strength to the Nurse elsewhere so it would be good to see how she’d handle such men if they tested her patience more.  

Sam Jones’ music, played live, and the changing light-wash colours on the cyclorama, operated by Lee Patrick who also designed the text projections, add aural and visual texture to a production that is both absorbing and troubling, the way it plays out. 


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