Shaftesbury Theatre – until 24th September 2022
Reviewed by Liberty Noke
&Juliet is based on Romeo and Juliet but the ending is reimagined and Juliet doesn’t kill herself. Instead she gets to go on an adventure and live her life. The show opens with William Shakespeare (Oliver Tompsett) introducing his new play Romeo and Juliet and his wife Anne Hathaway (Cassidy Janson) suggesting he change the ending to allow Juliet to go on and live her life. The couple then rewrite the ending together as the action plays out on stage. Tompsett is perfectly smug as Shakespeare, quoting himself and walking about the stage with a boastful arrogance yet we are endeared to him through his love for his characters and the love his wife has for him.
I loved how informally the show began with the ensemble entering one by one and dancing or chatting in stage before Shakespeare (Tompsett) entered. The ensemble were fantastic Rhys Wilkinson in particular had such energy and charisma. They each had different personality and costumes featuring elements from the time of Shakespeare such as corsets and puff sleeves but with an urban makeover to suit the modern age.
After Romeo’s death Juliet (Miriam-Teak Lee) travels to Paris with her best friend May (Alex Thomas-Smith), her Nurse (Keala Settle) and friend April who Anne Hathaway (Cassidy Janson) plays. There they meet Francois ( Tim Mahendran) and his father Lance (Julius D’Silva). May and Francois form a sweet, tender relationship and their duets are beautiful. In such an energetic show the calmer moments between the pair are magical and Thomas-Smith and Mahendran have wonderful chemistry.
It is then Revealed that Romeo (Tom Francis) survived too and he makes a confident entrance to try and win Juliet back. Francis brings charm and lovability to the role of Romeo, a self-proclaimed douche. He is new to the part and I was excited to see him perform and he did not disappoint, a fantastic performance.
Keala Settle and Julius D’Silva were also new to the cast. As the nurse Keala Settle is a powerhouse her vocals are amazing and her performance of perfect was a highlight of the show. D’Silva and Settle as Lance and the Nurse brought a lot of comedy to the show as well.
It is easy to see why Cassidy Janson won an Olivier Award for this performance she is phenomenal as Anne Hathaway and even when there is action elsewhere on stage the eye is often drawn to her. She is excitable and chatty and endearing as a character a lot of women can relate to as she tries to help Juliet as she blossoms into a strong independent woman.
The entire show oozes girl power it is empowering to watch Juliet realise her confidence and take control of her own life and this feeling culminates when she performs Roar. Miriam-Teak Lee’s vocals are incredible and she takes command of the stage as she performs this number with confidence and sass. The Nurse too takes charge of her own life, insisting that if she is to marry Lance he will treat her right and it is wonderful to watch Anne Hathaway pluck the quill from Shakespeare and smile with pride as she rewrites happy endings for these powerful women.
The use of well known pop songs throughout the show makes for a feel good show giving a feeling of nostalgia as everyone already knows and loves the songs. The audience are left feeling warm and fuzzy but also confident and empowered. An amazing show – I challenge anyone to watch this and not absolutely love it.