The National Theatre’s first foray into film-making is a really completely different proposition to an NT Dwell recording. It’s a manufacturing created solely for the display. A word on the finish tells us it was shot “on a single stage, over 17 days, throughout a worldwide pandemic”. However no disclaimer is required. Poised and adventurous, this Romeo and Juliet is a hybrid marvel and filled with clever invention. Emily Burns’s adaptation is modern and at occasions feels lean however that may be a vital sacrifice for rigidity and tempo. Director Simon Godwin has given the movie a exceptional sense of motion and performed with theatrical artifice in deft methods.
The opening shot reveals the actors convening on the stage for rehearsals, props and dressing rails strewn round them, with the protection curtain in sight. Additional in, rehearsal pictures are included into the manufacturing to remind us of the movie’s mechanics however none of those components appear laboured.
Some of the highly effective soliloquies, which options Juliet on the verge of ingesting the potion that can deliver on the appearance of demise, includes a circle of actors round her on stage. The scene retains all its emotional energy, and we’re not pulled away from Juliet’s interior state however introduced nearer. The actors within the blurred peripheries seem ghostly, as if she has already entered a special dimension.
There are some constructed units – drawing rooms and bedrooms – however the movie seems to be greatest when characters are lit towards its black backdrop, evoking the drama of previous grasp work. Tim Sidell’s images seems like a shifting portray at occasions and Michael Bruce’s music is simply as lovely. Filmed on and across the Lyttelton stage, it has a claustrophobic really feel that not solely resonates with lockdown but additionally captures the choking sense of destiny closing in on the younger lovers.
Solely at occasions does it appear too poised, its characters generally missing the messy emotional excesses that result in the play’s many tragedies. Jessie Buckley, as Juliet, stands out because the movie’s coronary heart and soul. Intense and ardent, she is a robust, rebellious daughter who verges on the punkish, and even when she is at her most weak by no means seems weak. Josh O’Connor comes out of the shadow of The Crown’s Prince Charles, the position for which he’s greatest identified, but appears grave and emotionally coiled. However collectively they gel and their prompt love, sparked at a modern-day occasion on the Capulets’, is charming.
Tamsin Greig’s Girl Capulet is a controlling mom: chilly, imperious and slightly too menacing. Different characters, from Fisayo Akinade’s passionate, homosexual Mercutio to Lucian Msamati’s Friar, Adrian Lester’s Prince and Deborah Findlay’s warmly clucking Nurse, are finely rendered.
Commercially, the size and useful resource of this enterprise can hardly function a blueprint for different theatres to observe, however artistically it’s simply beautiful. If it is a first enterprise right into a pandemic-resistant income stream for the Nationwide, it units the bar excessive.