Shakespeare In The Park: The Tragedy of Romeo & Juliet Beautifully Retold

Indulge in Shakespeare’s most famous play about passion and young love at Fort Canning Park.

But, soft! what light through yonder window breaks?
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

Oh, pardon me. Got a little carried away.

Non-profit charity, Singapore Repertory Theatre is back with Romeo & Juliet, their 9th Shakespeare in the Park production at Fort Canning Park. This year’s play was also made that much meaningful since it coincides with the 400th death anniversary of The Bard, William Shakespeare himself.

The public can purchase 7.30pm show tickets from 27 April to 22 May. Ticket prices start from S$40 (for information on ticket prices, click here). The leading roles are played by Thomas Pang (Tribes) and Cheryl Tan (Beauty World, Red Riding Hood).

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The play opens with a handcuffed Friar Laurence giving an opening exposition for the story of the star-cross’d lovers. The Montagues and the Capulets, members from the feuding families trade verbal blows in a stage setting that was divided by colour codes blue and red, a concept cleverly thought out by set designer Frank O’Conner. It also bears uncanny resemblance to the Team Captain America and Team Iron Man publicity gimmick from Marvel’s latest installment of The Avengers film.

The characters’ costumes are an assortment of modern and confusing East-meets-West wears as we see characters dressed in modern clothes (hoodies and tank tops) and Chinese robes? Romeo comes into play decked in tee-shirt, denim overalls and a cap, as though telling the audience not to take him – and his age – too seriously (Juliet is 13 years old in the play, but the age of Romeo was never made known by Shakespeare).

The play advances in the plot trivialities, all of which were forgotten the moment Juliet performs her monologue scene after meeting Romeo at the party. Laying down on her balcony, our protagonist makes her case for her falling head-over-heels with Romeo, and cries out for him in an almost-sexual fashion. Her beau hears her, and the two affirmed each other with their words of love and passion – so potent it gave me goosebumps upon goosebumps.

SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet

PHOTO: Courtesy of SRT

Cheryl Tan in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet (4)

PHOTO: Courtesy of SRT

The rest of the play proceeds very much according to Shakespeare’s original literature – with slight variations here and there – although it was really such a delight to see this classic play being performed once again. The brilliance of the play was owed to every actor who so skillfully brought these iconic Shakespeare characters to life. Staying true to the source text amid a modern adaptation, SRT’s latest Shakespeare In The Park production tells audiences that literature classics such as Romeo and Juliet are best enjoyed in the form of a play (like those in Shakespeare’s time).

But I am not buying the ‘greatest love story ever told’ rhetoric namely because Juliet was acknowledged to be 13 year’s old – faithful to the original literature. Age should not be a hindrance to love, but what can a 13-year-old know about love, especially since her love interest Romeo also completely (and conveniently) forgets all about Rosalind, his previous object of infatuation. Plus, it is almost ridiculous to (want to) die for someone you know for barley a week, a point highlighted by Shakespeare himself.

Yet Romeo and Juliet is for me what a real loving relationship should possess; red-hot passion and fervent yearn between lovers. Portraying the most famous lovers in theatre history can be sticky, but Pang (first leading role in a major production) and Tan were simply brilliant to watch on stage with their sweet resonating of each other. Every dialogue and every moment between the two was precious as I trace their every word and step like a hopeless romantic (like Romeo) for that 2 and a half hours.

While Pang and Tan were the stars of the show, the other actors more than performed their roles with gusto. The story may end in tragedy but everything about the play was on point and I really can’t find any fault whatsoever.

Company in SRT's Shakespeare in the Park - Romeo & Juliet (2)

PHOTO: Courtesy of SRT

Rumour has it that this year’s staging of Romeo & Juliet could be SRT’s last Shakespeare In The Park. A recent article published by The Straits Times confirms this to be true. What with the increasing production and manpower costs, producing a play of such magnitude in Fort Canning Park is proving to be unsustainable for SRT, especially since the the non-profit organisation relies heavily on ticket sales.

It would be such a pity to take such an enriching cultural activity from Singapore, seeing as more and more Singaporeans are warming up to Shakespearean plays and the arts in the broader prospective. It seems that the reception of this year’s play will decide if there will be another next year. So, make haste! Tell your friends about Shakespeare In The Park: Romeo & Juliet and get them to catch tickets to the play!

Many thanks to SRT for the media invite. Thank you for reading this review and “Good night, good night! parting is such sweet sorrow, That I shall say good night till it be morrow.” RW

 

Shakespeare in the Park – Romeo and Juliet

Fort Canning Park

Opens 27 April to 22 May 2016

Brought to you by the company that has captivated thousands each year with its successful productions of The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice, Othello, Twelfth Night, Macbeth, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Much Ado About Nothing.

Spread your picnic blanket under the stars and relish in the greatest love story ever told – Romeo & Juliet.

Ticket Pricing: $40 – $85

Web Link: Shakespeare in the Park – Romeo and Juliet

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