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This smooth and well-crafted production makes no bones about being filmed theatre as opposed to a film adaptation. The viewer is reminded by stage hands changing props and intermittent audience applause that stage and not screen conventions apply. At the same time closeups and changes of viewpoint enhance the theatrical experience.
Costumes, sets and incidental music suggest a setting in Mussolini's Italy.
The principals here are backed by a strong supporting cast, especially Colm Feore as Mercutio and Barbara Bryne as the Nurse. If there is any flaw it is in the principals themselves. Cimolino's Romeo is played as a wimp and Follows' Juliet as a child, frequently shown holding dolls and toys as if she were eleven rather than thirteen. Perhaps this was done to allow the characters room to grow and mature over the length of the play (as they certainly do) but for this reason or some other the scenes between R and J are curiously devoid of passion.
Follows' Juliet seems to be terrified by the approach of Romeo, and her banter at the Capulets' party feels like an excuse to get away rather than flirtation. She plays her way to her doom with an air of resigned dread which is frequently effective (her scene as she debates whether to take Friar Lawrence's potion is particularly brilliant) but not when she's anywhere near Romeo.
A real plus is that there are no cuts to fit the cinematic mold--you therefore get the play as Shakespeare wrote it. This, together with the fine performances all round would make this an excellent version for school use.
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