How nice it would be, I thought, to tweak ‘Romeo & Juliet’ so that the depressing bits were, if not eliminated, softened. How uplifting it would be to have the attractive youngsters recover from their deaths by poison and gloom and live to relive the bits where all went well and romance put a spring in your step and a melody in your heart. Not only that, how fun it would be to just keep repeating the good bits over and over, gradually removing even the bits that were just slightly a downer.
The student designers built an excellent miniature theatre in their large studio. Like an enlarged Victorian toy theatre cut from stout card, this tunnel-like performance space looked overcrowded when inhabited by more than one actor yet was susceptible of ingenious scene changes and special effects. The show kicked off with an abbreviated version of the highlights of the back end of R&J, featuring the slaying of Paris (played by an actor playing Leonardo di Caprio, star of the only version of R&J I could bear to watch), followed by Romeo’s poisoning himself on finding what he takes to be the corpse of Juliet, then leading into Juliet’s suicide on finding her lover dead. These hot moments were then replayed with greater and greater abbreviation, faster acting and louder music. By the fifth cycle the dialogue is down to three lines and the final, sixth cycle sees the characters die and revive in a matter of a few seconds each.