Review: Educational and immersive, the Orange Tree’s Romeo and Juliet is a brilliant teaching aid for students

By Emily Hemsley
March 4 2020, 10.30

The Orange Tree Theatre uses drama to bring a modern twist to Shakespeare to enhance the learning and creativity of young people in and around Richmond.

Shakespeare’s powerful and intense love story, Romeo and Juliet, was passionately performed by five cast members dressed in a modern style as they explored the dark and violent themes in the play where deep passions collide.

Designed for an audience in Years 9, 10 and 11 studying the text in class, the 90-minute play, directed by Nathan Crossan-Smith, uses Shakespearean language in a contemporary setting to spark students’ curiosity and to allow them to experience Shakespeare in a refreshing new light.

Despite the challenges of having a small stage with surrounding seating, the theatre enticed the audience through dramatic stage production such as dimly lit lights, mist, fire and music, as well as the actors using abstract body movements, loud sounds and dance, making the experience thrilling for students.

The five cast members: Anton Cross, Christine Gomes, Femi Nylander, Sophie Ormond and Shannon Newscroft, delivered passionate and compelling performances.

As directed by Enric Ertuňo, the use of stage fighting was particularly advanced to portray the violent passions of the play.

However, the multi-role of characters made the performance slightly more challenging to follow.

“I enjoyed the modern adaptation, particularly that some of the iconic male characters were played by women, but I found it a bit confusing,” said Lauren O’Toole, 18.

The production is part of the Orange Tree’s Educational Programme’s ‘Shakespeare Up Close’ project; established over 30 years ago to improve the learning and personal development of 10,000 young people in Richmond borough.

The play is set to perform to more than 4,000 secondary school students at the theatre and on school tours.

Related Articles