Miriam-Teak Lee – Juliet
Cassidy Janson – Anne
Oliver Tompsett – William Shakespeare
David Bedella – Lance
Jordan Luke Gage – Romeo
Melanie La Barrie – Nurse
Tim Mahendran – Francois
Alex Thomas-Smith – May
Roshani Abbey – Lucy
Jocasta Almgill – Lady Capulet
Ivan De Freitas – Lord Capulet
Date: Wednesday 22nd December 2021 (7:30pm)
Venue: Shaftesbury Theatre
Romeo, Romeo, who is this Romeo?
That’s probably the quickest way to briefly explain the outline of the plot of & Juliet, when William Shakespeare is getting ready for the premiere of Romeo & Juliet his wife Anne decides that the ending is awful and that she can do a lot better as Juliet deserves to much more. This is where we are then taken throughout the show, with Anne re-writing Juliet, or at least attempting to as her husband goes against her trying to create tension and more drama.
& Juliet has a rather unique story in terms of attempting to change the course of that tragic ending and showing that she had so much more to offer and give than killing herself after Romeo had did the same. The songs are all very well known and so perfectly fit into the story and quite frankly its breathtaking good! So good in terms of (at least for my age group 30s) how many of the songs have been my favourites over the years. A while back I had started listening to the cast recording but didn’t listen to it all so I had plenty of surprises throughout the show. Especially when it came to ‘It’s My Life’ by Bon Jovi which is one of my all time favourite songs ever by my favourite band and it was done in such a great way!
The change in the story sees Juliet along with her best friends May, April and her Nurse Angelique travel to Paris to get as far away from the memory of Romeo as possible, naturally she finds out that she was not his only lover and he had plenty! As Anne continues the story William cannot cope with everything being too happy so keeps stepping in to make some changes.
The character of May is amazing to see on screen not really pushing gender in particular, showing that they are not even fully sure who or what they want to be. The change of “I Kissed a Girl’ and including I kissed a boy and the coming out as gay of another character in the process with this is a true joy to witness on stage. The forced relationship between Francois and Juliet was quite difficult so the triangle with May and then bringing Romeo back from the dead would shake things up! As Angelique is reacquainted with Lance the man she was in love with and the previous family she had worked for as a nurse.
Miriam-Teak Lee is an unbelievable talent and watching her on stage all I could think about was that a true story I born! She won an Olivier award for this performance and that is more than deserved, her voice is utterly outstanding and her presence on stage was utterly breathtaking. I am also pretty sure she was in Hamilton when I saw that! The way she makes each and every song her own in this show is amazing. I mean come on just how amazing is her version of ‘Roar’.
Cassidy Janson is one of my stage favourites, totally was taken in by her during her time in Beautiful and even went closing night. It was so much fun to see her in the role or Anne/April having so much fun with that on stage, showing her humour while also still being able to show off her breathtaking vocals. She also won an Olivier award for her performance, another I can easily say and rightly so! David Bedella was also an Olivier award winner and it was such a joy to see him on stage again, I adored him for years in the Rocky Horror as Frank and have been a big fan for many years. He really makes everything look so easy! Then the chemistry with Melanie La Barrie really was great, she certainly got some amazing moments. In particular f**king perfect was well you know so perfectly placed and I loved that they went for the proper full version as well.
Olivier Tompsett is great as Shakespeare and works so effortlessly well with Janson and the way they bounce off each other is very impressive. Jordan Luke Gage is utterly hilarious as Romeo and you cannot help but totally laugh at and with him constantly. Alex Thomas-Smith was utterly delightful as May, such am incredible voice he has and was a joy to see on stage. The moments with Tim Mahendran were very impressive as well as let’s fact it that was all just meant to be right?
I think the main thing that this story and the way everything progressed made me think that while Juliet deserved more you couldn’t just deny the impact Romeo had on her life and that she really did love him. While not all love stories work out it is clear that you cannot just easily erase them and must become stronger in the end. It also pokes fun at Shakespeare as well which is always amusing, as well as only one Anne Hathaway. So some little pieces of historical facts are placed in as well.