Set play

Romeo and Juliet Chichester Festival Theatre until October 5

Indhu Rubasingham, the director of Romeo and Juliet, says:

"People over-reach themselves in this play. There is young energy and violence and the sense of urgency is very important: the whole play takes place in three days. The pressure of time causes people to act inappropriately. For Capulet the situation changes when Tybalt, the male heir of the family, dies. His behaviour towards Juliet, in forcing her to marry Paris, is horrific, but he is under pressure."

Rubasingham asks two main questions in her production: is this true love, or is the attraction between the young people exaggerated by the fact that it is forbidden? and is Fate or human nature to blame for the tragedy?

These she sets in the context of her main innovation, placing events in 17th-century Constantinople where the Montagues are Islamic and the Capulets Greek Orthodox. The reason for the antagonism between the families is thus made clear and the play acquires a modern resonance.

This may be the most famous love story of all time, but Rubasingham questions Romeo's feelings. He is clearly less mature than Juliet, who takes charge of the situation, makes decisions, doesn't go to pieces in a crisis as Romeo does. "His only references to Juliet are to her beauty - which is typical of someone very young. There is something narcissistic about Romeo." Juliet, meanwhile, grows up during the play: she has been defined as a daughter, a Capulet. She is let down by all the major figures in her life.

Even the Nurse and Friar Laurence are weak. Even so, like everyone else, Juliet fails to take proper account of the consequences of her actions:

"When she feigns death she causes excruciating pain to her family."

Tickets, tel: 01243 781312

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