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Maynardville: Romeo and Juliet, best way to ruin a good picnic!

The annual Shakespeare production at Maynardville is a traditional calendar highlight in Cape Town. An open air setting, in a park, by a lake, with a picnic, at sunset…Sounds lovely no?

Not if Director Fred Abrahamse has anything to do with it! Managing to pervert a tale of sweetness and innocence into a lewd string of sexual innuendo, locate the least lovable and capable actors in the fold (universe) to play the leading roles and dress them up as drag queens. Nice work buddy!

The famous balcony scene, has the already creepy Romeo “touching himself” while romancing Juliet. Any utterance of vaguely phallic dialogue, such as “pen” or “sword” was accompanied by violent sexual thrusting motions. Poor Shakespeare. Shame on you!

I was begging for a rewrite to see the two star crossed heifers end their lives in the first act, but alas, they made it all the way to the end. The rest of the actors were good, but struggled stoically to entertain the audience, between painful appearances by the pair who wouldn’t die.

In fact the cast (apart from the dastardly duo) were very good, but the direction, ridiculous costumes, music and set were of less than high school standard. In the old days of the Globe theatre, there would have been real safety concerns for Romeo and Juliet.

Notable performances were like a breath of fresh air and included: Guy de Lancey as Capulet, Nicholas Pauling as Benvolio, Adrian Collins as Sampson, Jason Ralph as Mercutio and Anthea Thomson as Nurse.

I don’t like to give bad reviews. I prefer to be empathetic, and imagine myself in their shoes, or perhaps their parents. This begs the fact that only a good mother could have loved those performances, and a better one would have given them career advice!

Take a picnic, but save the ticket money till next year, when this guy will be promoted to Minister of the Arts, Sports and Tourism.