Two literary classics are getting an edgy contemporary feel as a Bard double-bill comes to Norwich Theatre Royal.
The Watermill Theatre brings its brand new production of Twelfth Night to Norwich Theatre Royal alongside its 2016 hit Romeo & Juliet in what is sure to be a must-see for fans of William Shakespeare’s work.
Each production will feature a cast of actor-musicians aiming to bring a modern feel to the classic text of both plays.
Romeo and Juliet’s story of all-consuming love will be set in a modern nightspot known as the Capulet Club complete with busy bar and a clientele made up of the star crossed lovers and their families. The cast of actor-musicians will also inject a new dimension into the piece by performing a soundtrack of hits by the likes of Mumford and Sons, The Vaccines, The Civil Wars and Hozier.
Meanwhile Twelfth Night will be set in the 1920s at a time when Europe is still returning to normality after the First World War and prohibition is on everyone’s minds. This will also feature a strong musical soundtrack which this time features compositions from the likes of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong.
A host of fast-emerging acting talent will be taking on the leading roles in each production. Playing Benvolio and Maria is Victoria Blunt, who played the part of Benvolio when Romeo and Juliet was previously performed at The Watermill. She also starred in the West End production of Dead Funny last year and is also set to appear in the Channel Five hit comedy Borderline. Victoria is also the brains behind YouTube comedy channel Toilet Break Films or TBF which features a host of short humorous videos.
She stars opposite Lauryn Redding who takes on the parts of the Nurse and Toby Belch. Her previous stage credits include Horrible Christmas at The Lowry in Manchester and a number of Horrible Histories productions, as well as appearing in TV shows as diverse as Emmerdale and Lee Nelson’s Well Good Show.
Actor-musician and model Mike Slader portrays Paris and Sir Andrew Aguecheek fresh from a wide range of stage appearances in the likes of the UK tour of Dreamboats and Miniskirts and Frankenstein.
Also in the cast is accomplished stage performer Stuart Wilde who plays Romeo and Sebastian. He recently took on the role of John Webster in the West End production of Shakespeare In Love and also got a nomination for Best Leading Actor in the Broadway World UK awards for his portrayal of Tommo in Private Peaceful.
Both productions are directed by Paul Hart, the Watermill’s Artistic Director, who wants to build on the company’s reputation for inventive, irreverent and imaginative storytelling. He said: “Twelfth Night and Romeo And Juliet seemed to me to be the perfect pairing of plays. They will be performed by a brilliant ensemble of actors in a way that is incredibly rich in music with a real focus on the language.”
The theatre based just outside Newbury is also where the acclaimed all-male Shakespeare company and Norwich Theatre Royal favourites Propeller started life. Theatre spokesman John Bultitude said: “These imaginative, exciting and energetic productions definitely show the work of the Bard is for anyone. Whether you loved Propeller, Shakespeare or would like to enjoy a really innovative production, this double-bill is going to bring some really exciting theatre to the city.”
These two productions are here from 6-10 June, and tickets are available now.