Inspired by Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy, writer Gary Owen and director Rachel O’Riordan reunite following their critically acclaimed productions of Killology and Iphigenia in Splott – recently named by the Guardian as ‘one of the 50 Best Theatre Shows of the 21st Century’ – on ROMEO AND JULIE a powerful, funny and poignant new play about the hope and heartbreak of two young people in Britain today.
A co-production between the National Theatre and Sherman Theatre, the production will tour to Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch from 23 –27 June 2020.
Romeo is a teenage single dad hanging on tight. Julie is fighting to follow her dream of studying at Cambridge. Two working-class eighteen year-olds raised a few streets apart, but from entirely different worlds, crash into first love and are knocked off their feet. But at this crossroads to the rest of their lives, both families fear the worst in a world of unequal opportunity.
Romeo and Julie is designed by Hayley Grindle, with lighting by Jack Knowles, and sound design by Gregory Clarke and puppetry design and direction by Finn Caldwell.
Writer Gary Owen said, ‘I’ve wanted for ages to write a story about a man who became a dad in far more difficult circumstances than me, but who would succeed, be a good parent, and be transformed for the better by what he’d been through.
‘Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet is a story about young love. It becomes a tragedy because of pressures the lovers face from outside their relationship. Well, raising a baby puts pressure on any relationship, no matter how stable. And so I had my play about a young man, Romeo, dad to four-month-old Niamh, who meets Julie, a girl from three streets away and an entirely different world.
‘This will be the fourth play I’ve made with Rachel. It’s fantastic to be working with her again. There’s a genuine trust.’
Director Rachel O’Riordan said, ‘I am very connected to Gary’s work; I feel that the way he writes, and what he writes about, resonate with me very strongly. I will always be interested in directing anything he writes; but this idea also foregrounds another real interest of mine, which is how classic plays can be radically reinvented. I am keen to see how far the interpretation can go, and how a great play can be reframed by a great contemporary playwright.’
Rufus Norris, Director of the National Theatre said, ‘Rachel O’Riordan directs Gary Owen’s new play Romeo and Julie, which takes inspiration from Shakespeare’s play to create a funny and poignant look at the hope and heartbreak of two working class teenagers. A co-production with Sherman Theatre, we’re delighted to be able to tour this production to four of the brilliant Theatre Nation Partnership venues that we have been working closely with to build audiences over the last three years.’
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