TEENAGERS from the Young Wick’s players brought a modern classic to life last weekend in the gripping sequel to Romeo and Juliet.
The work of Sharman Macdonald — actress Keira Knightly’s mother — was brought to fruition in the 90s after her daughter watched Baz Luhrman’s adaptation of Romeo and Juliet and asked ‘what happened next?’.
A small cast took on the production of After Juliet at Southwick Community Centre’s The Barn on Friday and Saturday.
Despite audio problems, and the eternal hissing from overhead speakers that sounded like rainfall, the young actors carried on through the two acts without distraction.
Comic relief was brought by the characters of Lorenzo and Gianni, Juliet’s cousins, played by Luke Mepham and Josh Perrera.
Both were quick-witted, full of expression and confident on the stage.
Luke stood out as the most capable of the two with his perfect timing, silly quirks and ‘numb tongue’ dialogue.
Given that it had been some years since reading Shakespeare’s tragic play, it was difficult to follow the plot at times, but did not make it any less enjoyable.
The stage was kept simple with a shrine for the recently-lost young couple, adorned with paper flowers and a bench where many recitings took place.
The bench felt on par with Juliet’s iconic balcony.
Another of Juliet’s cousins, Alice, was reminiscent of Regina George in Mean Girls. An interesting take on a typically unlikable Shakespearean character that made it all the more engaging.
Courtney Everett, who played the role, was confident, snarky and at times funny. Another favourite to watch.
But many of the players were overshadowed by the strong, mesmerising performance of Lisa Pepper in the lead role of Rosaline, another of Juliet’s cousins.
Rosaline had been left heartbroken after the loss of Romeo, who was a former love interest of hers before Juliet came into the picture.
Lisa’s soliloquies were eloquently delivered with a passion and fervour that is usually detected in a much more experienced actress.
She simply stole the show and has a promising career in the arts ahead of her.
Although the story lagged in the first half, it picked up by the second act, with sword fighting, creepy premonitions and a clear thirst for blood between the forever duelling Montagues and Capulets.
Other notable performances were by Matt Rouse and Ted Gibbs who played the two romantic interests for Rosaline.
The only disappointment is the play had a life span of two showings, but it is hoped many of these actors will return in another splendid Young Wick’s production.
So, what happened next? Maybe a third entry should be in the cards.