The Bard's complex meditation on the power love sparkles into life on a bare stage that replicates the compelling physical intimacy of Shakespearean theatre in which earthy buffoonery rubs shoulders with the most transcendent poetry.

The Popup Globe makes you realize how much modern theatre has regressed by privileging the requirements of the performance space over the all-important relationship with the audience.

Those hardy enough for the cheap tickets standing in front of the stage are in the best position to enjoy the show. Time and again they are drawn into the action as the players plunge into their midst and when the star-crossed lovers evoke the firmament they can follow their gaze to the glittering night sky above. (not so much during a north-easterly downpour).

The cast comprising local talent, with a smattering of international luminaries, all display fine vocal projection as they take on the exquisite, often difficult word play of Shakespearean verse.

Director Ben Naylor thrusts us into the dangerous, unpredictable world of street violence where Jatinder Singh is a suitably furious Tybalt and Stanley Andrew Jackson III brings plenty of swag to his electrifying delivery Mercutio's Queen Mab speech.

Jonathan Tynan-Moss as Romeo and Christel Chapman's Juliet convincingly express the wild, irrepressible energy of crazy-in-love teenagers while the Stephen Butterworth finds a deranged edge for the rantings of patriarchal authority.

A gentler tone comes with Edward Newborn's Friar Lawrence and Paul Willis elicits considerable sympathy as the put-upon servant to Carmel McGlone's bawdy and engaging Nurse.

The only downside came as the world's finest poetry was forced to compete with a nearby rock concert and the cackling of bar patrons spilling into the surrounding carpark. It is a crying shame that our city could not find a suitably magnificent waterfront location for this brave and brilliant venture.

Theatre review


Romeo and Juliet



Pop-up Globe Theatre, Greys Ave, Auckland. Until April 17.