Celebrated theatre and film director Nicholai La Barrie makes his Royal Exchange Theatre directorial debut with a contemporary retelling of William Shakespeare’s most famous love story, Romeo & Juliet. Billed as a “love letter to Manchester” and “a celebration of youth, love and aspiration”, this fiery retelling captures the hope and tragedy of love, revealing the power it has to make change even when everything feels impossible.
This fiery retelling captures the hope and tragedy of love.
The classic love story is brought bang-up-to-date in this thrilling new production. Set in a hostile city, two rival families take their cruel, uncontrollable violence to the streets. Meanwhile, two young people experience shockwaves surging through everything they know. Reckless, impulsive and youthful, they experience chemistry like never before – are they willing to risk it all?
Tackling universal themes around love, parent-child relationships, friendship, rivalry and destiny, the age-old story of Romeo & Juliet still packs a punch with a modern-day audience. Taking inspiration from the culture and people of Greater Manchester, La Barrie has shaped this new production through conversations with the young people of Manchester and visits to some of the local schools participating in the Royal Exchange Theatre’s Local Exchange programme. The result is an electrifying and timely new production of Romeo & Juliet that embraces the vitality and diversity of the city.
With casting news confirmed, we are thrilled that Manchester actor Conor Glean (Mother Courage and Her Children and Queens of the Coal Age, Royal Exchange Theatre) will take the role of Romeo alongside Shalisha James-Davis (Casualty, BBC) as Juliet, in her Royal Exchange Theatre debut. The cast is completed by Geoffrey Aymer, Ike Bennett, Adam Fenton, Kate Hampson, Dominic Holmes, David Judge, Ashley O’Brien, Daniel Poyser and Gemma Ryan.
The cast will also be joined on stage by an ensemble of community performers.
With tension building between the Montagues and the Capulets, the cast will also be joined on stage by an ensemble of community performers. Made up of members from the theatre’s Elders Company, Young Company and Local Exchange project, there is no supporting company better placed to help create Manchester on stage. This is Romeo & Juliet with a proud Mancunian twist.
Of this timely production, La Barrie told us, “The thing that excites me most about directing Romeo & Juliet is about taking this epic story and making it personal, making it feel like these characters live with you, live near you, like you really know them. The things that this story teaches us are as relevant today as it was when it was written and that no matter how tragic it is, this love story still has immense hope at its heart.”
This seductive production looks sure to offer an alternative vision of hope in troubled times.
Taking just one single spark to rewire the world forever, this seductive production looks sure to offer an alternative vision of hope in troubled times. We can’t wait to see this exciting new production in-the-round – Romeo & Juliet plays at the Royal Exchange Theatre as part of their incredible new Autumn/ Winter Season.