25 February 2008: Update. The rains have come ... the dread of any outdoor festival. The first postponement for the season has hit. Tonight's dress-rehearsal and tomorrow's education workshop day are on hold. We watch the skies and hope ...Shakespeare in Queen's Park Festival (now Shakespeare in the Park Festival) is about to hit Toowoomba for the 5th time. So there I was this afternoon in the park watching the acting company go through some of their paces under the eyes of director Scott Alderdice and fight director Nigel Poulton. It was hot, sunny and well .... deja-vu-ish. Here we were 5 years on from the spindly little Hamlet set under that great tree (it's still there ... the tree that is) to a big, rock concert kind of stage for Romeo and Juliet complete with canopy so the actors can work in shade, and should it rain (god forbid) the stage and the lighting rig are protected. I don't miss watching the skies and praying for fine weather. Couldn't help feeling a twinge of pride to see how our baby has grown to a vigorous youngster. This wonderful little theatre festival that could has exceeded everyone's expectations. Its future is now in the lap of the gods and the will of mere mortals. But for now, bring it on. The Park is the place to be for the next couple of weeks.
This is a big, elemental production. It is austere and physical, stripped back to the essentials. There is no blood, little adornment, no shoes even. The focus is on the actor's body - its material and vocal expressiveness in service of the text. In so many ways it reminded me of Poor Theatre's stripping back to the fundamentals of performance in, as Grotowski attempted to describe it, a '... discarding of masks, the revealing of the real substance: a totality of physical and mental reactions.' Director Jennifer Flowers has produced a Romeo and Juliet that will appeal to those who like their Shakespeare and their acting unvarnished and quick. Certainly, this production is all of that. Playing time is under 2 and a half hours with no interval. The cast of twelve (8 men and 4 women) inhabit a world that is indeterminate; their unadorned costumes are of another time and place although in setting - elemental stone and water - designer Bill Haycock (with lighting by David Walters) has beautifully referenced the coldness of a classical citadel rather than the usual richness and warmth of Verona's Renaissance city. It fits the rest of the production and provides a new viewing of a play whose story is so well known in our culture that even those who have never experienced it on page, stage or screen feel that they 'know' it. Ms Flowers' production is a bold revisioning, and one that may take people by surprise. That's no bad thing at all. Continue reading Review: Romeo and Juliet – Queensland Theatre Company at Playhouse QPAC