BARD'S EPIC LOVE STORY MADE PURE AND SIMPLE
When: Tuesday, March 27, to Saturday, April 7, 7.45pm
Where: Hull Truck Theatre, Ferensway, Hull
To book: 01482 323638
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Valid until: Friday, May 31 2013
The Bard: Written early in the career of William Shakespeare, Romeo And Juliet follows two "star-crossed lovers" from rival families – the Montagues and Capulets.
Origins: Ever the magpie, Shakespeare based the plot on an 1562 poem by Arthur Brooke – itself inspired by an ancient Italian tale.
On screen: In the 20th century, the play has graced the screen as a 1950s musical of warring street gangs – West Side Story – and 1996's MTV-inspired Romeo + Juliet.
Romeo And Juliet has been reinvented countless times across the centuries. Actor Daniel Boyd tells Will Ramsey about its latest incarnation
H e's been a New York gang member, the son of a Russian diplomat and a party boy who dies with a needle in his arm.
The many faces of Romeo – one half of the "star-crossed lovers" of Shakespeare's romantic tragedy – point to a character endlessly ripe for reinvention.
But in Headlong Theatre's new production, the masterstroke might well be in its simplicity.
Here the focus is on the pair's naivety and the heady power of young love.
"Often when you watch Shakespeare, it's like watching a regurgitation of previous productions," said Daniel Boyd, 23, who stars in the company's new production of Romeo And Juliet.
"What we wanted to emphasise was the young love aspect of it, the heady heights of which are so easy to forget. When you become more settled, you become more guarded. The director wanted to make it more accessible, which sounds patronising but is not.
"If there's no poetry in a line, then he tells us there's no need to decorate it, so it has made it more naturalistic. We stay away from the epic nature of the love story, which, I think, has made it truer to the play."
Daniel, who graduated from the Royal Scottish Academy Of Music And Drama last July, found himself enthralled by director Robert Icke's methods.
Instead of a traditional read-through – the company's website says Robert is a man "allergic to tables" – the emphasis had been more on bouncing ideas around during the four-week rehearsal period.
Scenes and soliloquies were hammered out to the accompaniment of the music of Goldfrapp or Marvin Gaye, with the cast handed objects from footballs to cutlery from the company's storerooms to encourage them to play around with the text.
And always, the emphasis was on sharing ideas.
"All actors bring something of themselves to a role," said Daniel.
"Of course, it is something you create but it is a way of being imaginative with your own experiences of how it feels to be young and to fall in love.
"So it's nice to work with a director who feels that actors are the 'battery' – the source of power for a production.
"As big a role as it is – and it was overwhelming at first – it has been about connecting with it, rather than obsessing about the mountain I had to climb.
"And a part such as Romeo is such a blessing because there's always something new to find in it. There's no way of perfecting a role like that."
For the director, the production had been about bringing out those elements . On rereading the play, Robert said he was surprised to find he "didn't really know it".
"I tried to focus on the bits I felt I hadn't seen in productions before, such as the play's examination of dreams, of time, of coincidence and chance – rather than fate – and hoped to underline the fact that in this play, unlike many of the other major tragedies, up until the final moment it could still turn out OK," he said.
With designer Helen Goddard, Headlong has looked to explore that with a set that includes the projection of a digital clock to emphasise the passing of time.
"It is modern dress but then it would have been modern dress in Shakespeare's time," said Daniel.
"I don't think it's distracting. There are no mobile phones, no gimmicky elements. It doesn't feel as if we are trying to get down with the kids."