Bell Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo & Juliet’

Hark! What cast through yonder curtain breaks? ‘Tis Bell Shakespeare come to bring their tale of star-cross’d lovers to Melbourne in ‘Romeo and Juliet‘.

In this, the 400th anniversary year of the Bard’s death, it is fitting to get to the theatre to sample Shakespeare’s plays. There is no better place to start than with Australia’s official Shakespearean company, Bell Shakespeare.

Running over a two-week season, enjoy a cultured evening as you join the theatrical crowd heading over the river to a packed auditorium, just as they did in the 1590s. This production indulges you in all things Elizabethan, so dress in your best ruffles. Be greeted by Shakespearean wonder as you enter Arts Centre Melbourne, a magically lit world which looks like a little slice of The Globe theatre itself.

The Company takes you back in time both to ‘fair Verona’ and the Elizabethan playhouse, a place of shadows. The cast deliver their famous lines on an elaborate wooden stage, with proscenium arch and balconied scaffolding causing theatre-making itself to become something of a show.

Journey with the players as they tell this ancient tale of civil strife cursing warring families, and the folly of the sacrifice of innocent lives to old enmities. Study expertly trained actors in a tradition that goes back centuries, one in which the young playwright himself apprenticed.

Taking sides, you watch handsome young hotspurs fight it out with points, and marvel at the choreography of swordfighting. You’ll stare enviously at the elaborate Elizabethan costumes and get a sneak preview of possible winter fashion: skinny black pants? Frilled collars, doublets and calf-high ankle boots? Boasting young Elizabethan jacks never wore them so well.

Watch current hot property Alex Williams as handsome Romeo and look for the innuendo of Benvolio. Better your acquaintance of the cheeky bawdry of Mercutio, and of stock characters like the scene-stealing buffoonery of the Nurse. You will still get the punchlines all these centuries later.

Embrace your inner Elizabethan and celebrate with all who love the words and stories depicted by a glover from Stratford all those years ago. This is a night out for lovers of theatre-as-event itself. So tarry not and get thee to the theatre!

– Sarah
Sarah W. is a dance-trained theatre lover with a flair for the bold, and non-traditional performance platforms. On-the-street or in the box seat, she is always looking for quality works that push the envelope!

Bell Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet‘ runs at the Fairfax Theatre at Arts Centre Melbourne from 14 April to 1 May. Book tickets. This venue is accessible.

Disclosure: The Plus Ones were invited guests of Bell Shakespeare.
Photo credit: Daniel Boud.