Star-cross'd love in the morning

28th February 1997 at 00:00
At 9.15am most days Shakespeare was probably asleep. So he would sympathise with actors and 150 Chiswick School 14-year-olds going through Romeo and Juliet at such an early hour. But not too much sympathy is needed, for this is a lively reworking of the play by director Timothy Sheader and a cast of five.

The text has been raided for every scrap of relevance to current 14-year-olds, and acres of plot are neatly summarised in linking passages. The nurse (Polly Andrews) calls the friar (Jason Baughan) on her mobile phone, and soon the audience is deciding if the friar should marry the lovers. "Do it," says the crowd with a single voice.

There are a few losses - some of the poignancy goes, the poetry is curtailed, and sometimes the story becomes episodic. But these are just quibbles, and there were at least two moments in the 90 minutes when the fidgeting stopped and real, old-style theatrical magic took over.

Romeo and Juliet, Orange Tree Theatre, touring schools in the London area until March 26. Tel: 0181 940 0141.

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