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tblack44

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Romeo & Juliet (1978) (TV)
4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
A performance worthy of the name!, 16 November 2009
8/10

I have noted with some surprise the extremely negative criticism of many viewers who have commented on this version of Shakespeare's' famous play, particularly with regard to Patrick Ryecart's portrayal of Romeo. I can see how his performance could be considered wooden but in my opinion he has managed, with some success, to bring about a much more naturalistic depiction of the character.

Certainly, there are times when he should have perhaps brought out more emotion in his performance (such as the ballroom scene) but, for the most part, his understated portrayal works. His Romeo is a complex character whose extreme emotional state is always writhing beneath the surface and bubbles up beautifully when the occasion demands it. Whether it be expressions of rage or love, Ryecart manages to get it right what is perhaps the most faithful film version of this classic tragedy.

Rebecca Saire, who for once has been well cast in a BBC production in terms of her character's age, performed well as Juliet. Sweet yet sensitive, and deeply in love : a classic portrayal in a classical reading of Shakespeare.

In terms of the other memorable cast members, Alan Rickman did a good (but not a great job) as Tybalt, and I think that certain other reviewers have overpraised his performance due simply to his later celebrity. There is more to the character than his being simply broody (something which seems to be Rickman's essential reading of every role he plays). Anthony Andrews was as crazy and eccentric as I imagine Mercutio being; and if there ever was a faithful portrayal of an Elizabethan father, Michael Hordern pulled it off with gusto. Celia Johnson was great as a well-meaning and loving yet overly fussy Nurse.

I enjoyed this production as a faithful version of the text without the overly dramatic nature of later film versions (particularly Luhrmann's). I feel that the director has come as close as possible to a reading that Shakespeare would recognise. An admirable recreation of a beloved classic as ever there was one!