Review: New Views – Rehearsed Readings

The National Theatre’s New Views playwriting competition for 14 to 19-year-olds throws up some real winners in its shortlist.

This year’s New Views programme saw the National Theatre engage with 74 schools across the UK, offering workshops with writers like Luke Barnes, Dawn King, Winsome Pinnock and Chino Odimba to help 14 to 19-year olds learn about writing plays. Over 300 plays were then submitted and 10 shortlisted. The winning play – If We Were Older – is receiving a full production and the other 9 are getting the rehearsed reading treatment, some of which I was able to catch.

I really enjoyed It’s More Than Okay Levi by Robert Lazarus (Haberdashers’ Aske’s Boys’ School, Hertfordshire) – crying at plays about Alzheimer’s is my jam (the kind of emotional torture I like to put myself through…) and even in the reduced circumstances of this reading, I have to say there was a tear or two prickling away. Continue reading “Review: New Views – Rehearsed Readings”

Review: Romeo and Juliet, Union

“I am in love with a man”

Productions of Romeo and Juliet are not uncommon in the SE1 postcode, especially ones full of direct address to the audience and scored with live music. But what is surprising that there’s a considerably more moving and engaging production of Shakespeare’s tragedy to be found at the Union Theatre than the current one in residence up the road at the Globe. It’s no less radical a reinterpretation – the two lovers are reconceived as gay footballers here – but where Andy Bewley’s production really succeeds is in capturing the exultant highs of heady teen romance and the troubling lows of battling a world that doesn’t accept you.

The move to the football field is lightly done as far as the text in concerned – a city divided by its football loyalties makes sense. The Capulets’ team are the red shirts of AC Verona whilst in the blue are the Montagues of Verona FC with Juliet and Romeo as the stars of their respective youth academy teams. And Joe M Mackenzie’s adaptation pays dividends in many respects – Romeo’s flirtation with Rosaline manifests itself as homoerotic touching so often seen on the football field, taunts – homophobic or otherwise – spark real anger across the terraces, gender-swapping Paris as a would-be WAG positions her perfectly as the beard Lady Capulet needs her to be. Continue reading “Review: Romeo and Juliet, Union”