Siege Theatre: Romeo & Juliet (2018)

“What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet” Juliet; Act II Scene II

Romeo & Juliet - Siege Theatre 2018 (dir. M Speight, prod. C Birdseye)
Romeo & Juliet – Siege Theatre 2018 (dir. M Speight, prod. C Birdseye)

The Oxford Shakespeare Festival 2018 was CFD’s first foray onto the stage (as opposed to being behind it) in something like ten years! Romeo & Juliet ran from the 30th July – 11th August 2018 at the Oxford Castle and Prison, set up in their courtyard.

I auditioned for the role of Tybalt on one freezing cold February evening in 2018  on a whim, with a view to joining in with the swords and dramatics of Romeo & Juliet. Siege Theatre asked if I would like to play Lord Capulet.

In addition to being on stage, CFD provided costume design and support. I didn’t make that much for this production (the Montague boys’ masks, the ‘livery’ chains, a few belts and some adjustments/repairs to existing costumes, were all done by CFD) but I did have a ton of fun assembling and sourcing costume pieces. A lot of pieces came straight from the Costume Library and remain part of the available-to-hire items.

CFD on stage as Lord Capulet - Siege Theatre 2018 (photo by C. Birdseye)
CFD on stage as Lord Capulet – Siege Theatre 2018 (photo by C. Birdseye)

The framing device for Siege Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet was the prison itself: ‘Juliet’ as the new inmate trying to find escape via the works of Shakespeare, falls into the world of Verona and finds herself in a different kind of prison.

It’s no secret that I found the role of Lord Capulet challenging: this was the largest amount of lines I had had to date, and his character is thoroughly unlikable. I was struggling to give him the depth he needed to back up the conflict between the Capulet and Montague houses, especially as we had to cut the script down to fit into the 2 hour run time available for the show. I’m forever grateful to the ‘Cast Family’ for helping me find my feet with the role. 

Reflections with coffee, August 12 2018 - photo CFD
Reflections with coffee, August 12 2018 – photo CFD

We ran for 12 performances across two weeks, right in the middle of a heatwave, with a torrential downpour to finish on our final night! Despite all this – and the plastic gazebos trying to  enact some kind of revenge plot – we had a terrific audience response to the look and feel of the show.

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