REVIEW: “Romeo and Juliet”, Ribcaged Productions at The Grand, Clitheroe.

'The likely Lads!' from the Ribcaged Production of Romeo and Juliet at The Grand, Clitheroe. From the left, Mercutio played by Lewis Wren, Tybalt played by Ryan Monk and Benvolio played by Sebastian Threlfall.
'The likely Lads!' from the Ribcaged Production of Romeo and Juliet at The Grand, Clitheroe. From the left, Mercutio played by Lewis Wren, Tybalt played by Ryan Monk and Benvolio played by Sebastian Threlfall.

REVIEW: “Romeo and Juliet”, presented by Ribcaged Productions at The Grand, Clitheroe.

I’ve forgotten how many times I taught it. Some of the staff at The Grand reminded me I had done it with them! I do not seem to have put them off!

I have watched it performed in so many ways. I was keen to see how our local Ribble Valley company, Ribcaged, interpreted this famous love story. I enjoyed their production of “Wind in the Willows” a few months ago. I was not disappointed.

The contemporary setting, against a backdrop of last summer’s riots, works well, a city in ferment, gangs bent on violence and knife crime are just as much our problems today as in Shakespeare’s Verona. This production is greatly helped by two touching, effective and delightful performances by the young leads, Keiran Spencer as Romeo and Rebecca Charnley as Juliet.

Their diction was clear and passionate. A cast of young people, Jessica Hurley, Ryan Monk, Sebastian Threlfall and Ben Briscoe gave good support, helped by a group of adults, Peter Neaves, Owen Phillips, Richard Hoyle and Charlotte Smith. Jeremy Rycroft coped with the changeable character of Capulet and Keith Flood was a slyly comic Friar Laurence. Lewis Wren is an excellent Mercutio, wild and witty and he did well with all the sexy jokes and innuendos of the young men. Not much has changed there also!

A choir of six young Grab event winners (The Grand’s high schools talent show) added some melancholy music in the tomb and at the end. The simple staging was good. Owen Phillips had directed his cast skilfully and it is a delight to see young people so involved in theatre.

My only small quibble was in making Capulet as Commissioner for the Metropolitan police. I know many see the police as flawed, but such outright violence such as Tybalt murdering Mercutio in public would bring repercussions, and in contrast Montague is not clearly shown as a Crime boss. As a result it is hard to know who the Prince represents as the force of power and order, a politician perhaps!

But I did enjoy my evening and I look forward to Ribcaged again. I wish them a successful summer working with young people along with The Grand’s “Backstage Pass”.

PIPPA MUNRO HEBDEN