Posted by: Paul | March 7, 2010

Romeo & Juliet – Tango Style

Went to see a somewhat unusual production of Romeo & Juliet at the Mercury Theatre in Colchester for our anniversary yesterday. The actors were accompanied on stage by an Argentinian Tango orchestra, who not only provided the soundtrack and atmosphere, but also joined in the action to quite comical effect. They were brilliant musicians and endearingly amateurish actors!

The production itself was very much in the Baz Luhrmann “street” style, all hooded tops and enthusiastic urban knife brawls. I’ve never read or seen the play performed but have obviously seen movie adaptations – it was nice to be able to tick another “live” Shakespeare off the list though. The cast were pretty impressive, especially the chap playing Mercutio, who looked a little like Sylar from Heroes.

But it was the use of music and the orchestra which lifted it above the usual and made it something special. They were the party band during the banquet, accompanied by proficient tango dancers among the regular cast, and provided some interesting sound design style live atmosphere during quieter moments. I thought there was going to be more dancing from reading the early publicity, but what there was worked well within the context of the play and made it something a little bit different, rather than plain gimmicky.

The only place where I thought it didn’t work quite as well as it should was during the death of Mercutio (sorry for the spoiler if you don’t know the story). I felt the music here was a little overpowering and detracted from the impact of the stabbing. It worked better when Romeo killed Tibalt though – oops, there I go again!

Overall, very good and an enjoyable afternoon. Always nice to go back to the Mercury, it’s a great provincial theatre, had a good turnout (over three quarters full for a Saturday matinee), and deserves strong support.



  1. Dear Paul,
    I agree with you.
    Mercutio’s death is defined as the point at which Romeo and Juliet slides irrevocably into tragedy. Before this point the play fight between joy and love dilemma. Joy has been magnificently represented by Javier Alcina as Mercutio.

    • Thanks for reading, Lucia! Apologies that I didn’t quote Javier’s name in the original article as I didn’t have the full programme and couldn’t remember who played who.

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