Last night my friend and I went to see gb theatrecompany perform Romeo and Juliet at the Peace Gardens in Sheffield. It was the first time a play had been performed there and with the back drop of the town hall it was quite beautiful.
It’s been twenty years since I saw the play and I had managed to forget big sections of it which was a pleasant surprise. Plus the actors were excellent. There seemed to be real electricity between Gabriel Thomson and Lucy Wray as the lead characters and the experienced hand of David Davies was clear as Friar Laurence. We were particularly impressed with the sword fighting of Phillip Scott-Wallace (Tibbult) and the comic timing of Joel Sams (Mercutio) even though the jokes were pretty terrible but you have to blame Shakespeare for that.
The only problem really was the venue. Being in the city centre makes it accessible for everyone, but accessibility means buses and buses are flipping noisy. And car alarms are. And drunk people who wolf whistle and swear. Accessible also means people can wander behind the fence at the back and take photographs. Which was a little off putting. As were the teenagers having a chat in the row behind and the lady who briefly completely obscured my view with her umbrella (but I guess you could have had that anywhere).
And of course there was the rain itself which started in the second half. The play involved heavy dresses and a fair amount of lying on the floor which I imagine was cold, wet and pretty uncomfortable.
None of this seemed to affect the actors though. They carried on regardless and were pretty amazing.
Tomorrow is the same actors performing Twelfth Night and I imagine it will be excellent, but I’m a bit worried about it both for the actors and the audience. I’m not sure how relaxed I would have been if the drunken shouting had been ramped up. I think the idea of plays in the Peace Gardens is a good one in some ways, but ideally they needed more screening, a bigger audience and the odd security guard. Maybe it could be much more of a festival one day as David Davies suggested at the beginning.
So if you are looking for a night out please go tonight or tomorrow and support the theatre company. But be prepared to ignore the annoying sounds of Sheffield at night.