Romeo and Juliet is one of the most famous love stories ever told. It has been reproduced countless times, but never has it been done quite like the National Theatre’s latest production of William Shakespeare’s masterpiece.
Over the years, the story of Romeo and Juliet has been told in many interesting and unique ways. The most famous of which is probably Baz Luhrmann’s film in 1996 starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, which told the story in a modern-day setting but retained all of the original Victorian-era language to create a fascinating juxtaposition.
Shakespeare In Love also deserves mention as the most celebrated on-screen version of the story. It picked up seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress, and Best Director. The 1961 film West Side Story is also an adaption of Romeo and Juliet and still provides relevant commentary on race and class issues in American society today.
On top of that, there are fun interactive versions of the story, such as the Roméo and Juliette board game, and there is even a Romeo and Juliet slot game available at sites with the best casino bonuses, such as LeoVegas. But there has been nothing like the National Theatre production. Originally, it was supposed to be done as a theatre play in 2020. Unfortunately, due to issues throughout last year, including theatres being closed for the majority of the time, it became impossible for the show to go on – at least on stage.
The decision was taken to film the production instead and create a new Romeo and Juliet film while maintaining its theatrical roots. And therein lies the uniqueness of this production because the backstage elements, prop cages, set designs and costumes all become part of the film in an effortless and genius way.
For example, the film/play opens up backstage with members of the cast flirting with each other next to a prop cage filled with wooden knives. As the scene continues, the wooden knives slowly turn to steel, and the entire set comes alive seamlessly. It truly is a marvel how well it all came together, especially considering it wasn’t the plan initially; they were reacting to an unfortunate situation and doing the best they could.
“It was going to be impossible and maybe not that interesting to try and create cinematic realism because we can’t shoot outdoors and we only have one location really and it’s a stage. So initially it was like, ‘Well, let’s not shy away from the fact that we are on a stage. Let’s celebrate that,'” explained leading actor Josh O’Connor, who plays the role of Romeo.
Alongside him, as Juliet, is Jessie Buckley and the chemistry between them is simply undeniable, which is such an essential element of telling the story effectively. It is all about them, after all. It was directed by Shakespeare Theatre Company Artistic Director Simon Godwin and adapted for television by Emily Burns.
Shakespeare’s potential for reinvention is endless. Over 17 days of filming, the company was united by a sense of shared exploration. As well as being given intimate access to the thoughts and feelings of characters, we were able to bring to life remarkable, forgotten spaces at the National Theatre. Desire, dreams and destiny came together to make Romeo and Juliet sing in an entirely new way,”
It was produced in association with Sabel Productions and Cuba Pictures and had Rufus Norris, Dixie Linder, David Horn, Christine Schwartzman, Darren Johnston and Philip Edgar Jones as executive producers.
During the ongoing performance shutdown in London and New York, we’re delighted to participate in this compelling hybrid of theatre and film that brings an exciting contemporary perspective to one of Shakespeare’s most iconic plays. We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with the National Theatre.