Guests thronged the foyer at Harvey Hall for the school’s opening performance of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and were met by the unanticipated sights of intimidating riot police and a drunken homeless individual narrowly avoiding being trodden on. The scene, inspired by last summer’s city riots, of scarred, looted streets and enhanced in the auditorium by the stark graffiti walls of the production set, was already taking shape.
The St Swithun’s strong cast were joined for this production by a number of boys from Winchester College, Perins in Alresford and Kings’School, Winchester. All participants delivered their lines, numerous in cases, with aptly measured theatrical expression. Juliet, played by Mia Vallance M5 was a natural for the role, showing teenage frustrations towards Nurse (Izzy Arquier U5) and her parents Lord and Lady Capulet (Sam Groom and Mhairi Brannigan M5) but real tenderness for her Romeo (Zac Tiplady). Nurse lightened the sombre mood with her skilfully acted comic elements, as did Mercutia (Zainab Pampam U5) who excelled with her comic timing and expression. Jodie Russell U5 was superb as Benvolia, as was the benevolent and calming Revd Lauren played by Hatty Haines U6.
The modern interpretation of this well-known play was enjoyed by audience and cast alike; the cast looked at home in their street fashion and a motley collection of fancy-dress for the party scene; buskers appeared and played randomly on the street corners and the predominantly dim lighting created the appropriately menacing mood. The numerous fight scenes were exciting and authentic and a whole cast dance to a live cover of the aptly named Rihanna’s We found love in a hopeless place was expertly choreographed by Jess Parker M5.
Director and head of drama Ms Tracy Spring can be very proud of her company’s work to provide such high quality entertainment for the school community.