It was a first! The first time that the grandparents had all three kids over at their house for a sleepover. And it was their idea!
With the kids well taken care of, Jon and I were free to enjoy a night out at the park.
We attended SRT’s Romeo & Juliet at Fort Canning. This is SRT’s ninth production of Shakespeare in the Park, and this year’s coincides with the 400th death anniversary of William Shakespeare.
Having gone for previous Shakespeare in the Park events, and being wowed by Merchant of Venice the last time, I had high expectations for this show.
The set was a modern maze of metal, and stained glass windows echoed the Catholic context in which this play takes place. There were no period costumes as everything was set in modern times.
I thought that the play had a muted start, but it got better and better, and by the end I can safely say it was a really good show. For me, these were the standouts, and the let downs.
There was definitely a whole lot of chemistry between Thomas Pang and Cheryl Tan. They seemed very natural with each other, and that made the attraction between their characters believable. This is probably the most important thing since the whole story revolves around them!
Romeo & Juliet being married. Palmer’s kiss? (Picture credit: SRT)
Mercutio was excellent. I liked how the character was played by Shane Mardjuki, and I thought it was very interesting how Mercutio was made to become an ominous symbol of foreboding. It was appropriately creepy, and brought a different element to the scenes he reappears in after his death. It was interesting to me that the Apothecary was played by the same actor too, as if Mercutio’s spirit was somehow involved in giving the poison to Romeo.
I had extremely high expectations of Remesh Panicker after his excellent! stupendous! wonderful! take on Shylock. In Romeo and Juliet, Capulet, the character he played, didn’t get as much air time at first. But when Capulet made more appearances, and more of Capulet’s personality was revealed, I was won over. Remesh Panicker is just. so. good. The sideways look, the little wave of the hand, the pause. I’m sure it’s all planned. And it was carried out to perfection.
The Prince warning Capulet and Montague to stop all violence (Picture credit: SRT)
I liked the set too. The lighting could change to remind you of whether you were at the Capulet or Montague’s. It was versatile enough to show all the various scenes, including the iconic climb up the wall by Romeo :) A must! And for me, it was particularly significant seeing the same space being used as the bed where the young lovers spent the night together after their marriage, and later on as the space where they shared their love in death. Things you won’t get from the movie version.
As for what I liked less, I thought it was a strange choice of theme for the party scene. It seemed very out-of-place in the play’s entirety, and felt a bit like they were trying too hard to get the Asian thing in. I think that perhaps they were drawing on the extravagant and extremely kitsch costume party shown in Baz Luhrrmann’s Romeo + Juliet. In the movie it worked. Somehow on stage, without the whizzing camera effects and close-ups, it didn’t quite work so well.
The strange Asian-mish-mash party (Picture credit: SRT)
I also felt that Juliet was a little too frivolous for my liking at first. She was just a bit too gushy, a bit too exuberant. I guess it really depends on how old you think Juliet is supposed to be. Some say that based on the text, Juliet isn’t even fourteen. In which case, I suppose a gushy, young Juliet could be accurate. I guess I’ve been conditioned to expect a certain kind of Juliet, so it’s really me who needs to break out of it I suppose. However, as the play progressed, I thought Cheryl Tan’s Juliet got better and more nuanced.
Juliet dreaming about her Romeo (Picture credit: SRT)
Overall, I loved how the old English text was brought to life in this play. I noticed the words a lot more than I did when watching the movie, and the comical parts stood out more. It was extremely impressive that the actors could remember so much text and spout old English so smoothly! Gosh. I was also reminded that this was truly the original Twilight. When I read Twilight I couldn’t believe how quickly Edward and Bella could fall in love. Well, Romeo and Juliet did it first, and they fell in love even more quickly! See, Shakespeare was wayyy ahead of his time. Romeo and Juliet is an amazing story that’s worth revisiting. When we left the park I was still playing the scenes over in my head, and thinking about the themes that were brought out in the play. I guess Shakespeare does that to you.
SRT’s Romeo & Juliet closes on 22 May, Sun. If you have no plans this weekend, I suggest you check out this performance. It will be an evening well spent!
Tickets are available at the SISTIC website.