Shakespeare Under The Stars: Romeo & Juliet

by Jannat & Pawan Manghnani on April 24th, 2016

Introduction

​Shakespeare’s immortal romance Romeo & Juliet is the greatest theatrical love story of all time. The tragic young lovers twist and turn throughout eternity, forever in our dreams.

Shakespeare under the Stars will be the start of another love story. The culture lovers who live and visit Dubai, one of the greatest cities in the world, will finally have the chance to experience outdoor Shakespeare, one of the world’s most popular theatrical spectacles. The perfect match, finally united. 
​Shakespeare under the Stars produced by Constellation Productions. The extravaganza is directed by leading UK theatre director, and Constellation co-Artistic Director, Liz Hadaway.

Review

O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name;
Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, 
And I'll no longer be a Capulet.


You must be living under a rock if this dialogue doesn’t ring a bell? I doubt I would know even a single soul who isn’t enchanted by the saga of these two star-crossed lovers in an eternal Shakespearean play called Romeo and Juliet!
So, it happened to be the playwrights 400th anniversary this past weekend and a theatre company called Constellation Productions unveiled its new and immersive promenade-theatre play, Romeo+Juliet, at DUCTAC, Mall of the Emirates, over 3 sold out shows from the 21st-23rd of April 2016! April 23rd being a very special performance as this marks the Global Moment in Shakespeare Lives – the exact date of the 400 year anniversary.
​The warring families were given a modern twist setting it in Dubai of 2016 leaving us with Indians as the Karama Montagues and Westerners as the Jumeirah Capulets, a divide most of us expats may have felt at some point while living in Dubai? 
As we entered, we were asked to choose an eye mask from the two available colours- red and green, which basically was to split the audience between the two perspectives of the Montagues and the Capulets! As we seated ourselves in a very unconventional wood box type seating, the play began with a street brawl between Sampson and Gregory (Capulets and White) against Balthazar and Abraham (Montagues and Indians). Little did we know that they would be our guides throughout the play, talking, commenting and responding as representatives of their respective families and in character throughout!
​After the first scene, the audience split and I being a green mask or a Montague, quietly followed the lead of Abraham and Balthazar! Super interactive, we weren’t allowed to be passive and comfortable even for a minute. We kept shuffling between all the rooms of the theatre, to watch the characters unfold and embark on their journey!
​Our Romeo was brown in this case and it was a quite interesting take because it just felt right, He is a Romeo who resides in Karama, still speaks his lines in context of the original manuscript written by Shakespeare over 400 years ago in the year 1595 but does he wear dress pants? Nope. It was a modern twist alright, with him being so love-struck but so casually in his jeans and a tee. The same was for every character in the play. Juliet was seen wearing Swarovski embellished couture gowns and leggings. Wow! 
Above: ​​The balcony scene has been and will always be one of my favorites and it was played adorably by the two actors Taraash Mehrotra as Romeo Montague from Karama— and Sally Greenland as Juliet Capulet from Jumeirah.

Below: ​An 1870 oil painting by Ford Madox Brown depicting the play's famous balcony scene.
​There was a party scene, which was a common scene- in the sense both the Karama Motangue & Jumeirah Capulet families sat through it together with real food and drinks (non-alcoholic of course) were being served to us by bartenders and waiters in character, followed by a dance-off between the two families in a Bollywood VS Hip-Hop style choreographed majestically by The Ripple Effect to perfection which alone would have taken at least a month worth of rehearsals to get it right.

We were even asked to join them on the dance floor and engage- become one of them even for a few hours which was the start & highlight of immersing the audience into the play.
Actress Rossana Bou Absi who played the spiritual council Freya Lawrence was hilariously alluring and spot on in her improv' till all 150+ audience members were on board for the common scenes.
Even though, it wasn’t set in Verona but split between Karama and Jumeirah, and even though Romeo was sent to exile to Fujairah, it all made sense. Watching Shakespeare plays can get a bit daunting honestly but the director and producer Liz Hadaway made sure this wasn't just another snooze fest. We were kept on our toes for a vague 5500 steps over 2.5 hours (Thanks FitBit), and got to explore and experience this extravagant rendition of the classic hit. 

Cast

Taraash Mehrotra - Romeo
Sally Greenland - Juliet
Iobel Andemicael - Nurse
Phil Apaza - Sampson/Production Manager
Erik Thornquist - Gregory
Pawan Manghnani - Abraham
Zille Rehman - Balthazar
Rossana Bou Absi - Freya Lawrence
Tashia Dorsey - Prince
Charlie Cunningham - Mercutio
Jojo Jose - Benvolio
Maxine Machado - Bianca
Nilesh Deshpande - Lord Montague
Shereen Saif - Lady Montague
Blake Stemm - Tybalt
James Kinnard - Paris
Katherine Jones - Rosaline
Steve Lorrigan - Lord Capulet
Anna Northam - Lady Capulet

Choreographers

Aishwarya Shivkumar - The Ripple Effect (Dance)
Joshua Johnson ​ - The Ripple Effect (Dance)
Adam St - Fight Sequences

Photographer

​Nicholas Brocklebank - ​Photo Acacia Ltd

Production Team

Phil Apaza
Wayne Dorsey
Sidd Jose
Ujjwala Joshi
Aysha Ley
Rosine Saad
Aaqeel Shariff (DJ)

Director

Liz Hadaway
Watch the highlights here:
​Power Couple & Lifestyle Bloggers Jannat Manghnani (@PriyankaVidhani) & Pawan Manghnani (@AyaashPaw) embark on a unique adventure trying to break free from the routine while soaking in a new experience, well detailed into blogs so friends & family can benefit from them. Read about the entire experience by checking out our various blogs. Remember, A drop of ink may make a million think.


Posted in Events, Theatre    Tagged with shakespeare, theatre, theatre play, play, theatrics, promenade theatre, romeo juliet, romeo, juliet, romeo and juliet, Love, lost love, montague, capulet, classic, history, star crossed lovers, ductac, mall of the emirates


7 Comments

ishita - April 25th, 2016 at 4:25 AM
Love the detailing
Meenu Mehrotra - April 25th, 2016 at 9:06 AM
Brilliantly directed with amazing performances - Romeo & Juliet have never been seen like this before . Kudos for a sterling production - I went back , thoroughly impressed and smiling .
Meenu
Mahanta - April 26th, 2016 at 1:02 AM
Very beautifully done, it was an amazing night of theatre for Dubai!
michelle - May 19th, 2016 at 7:17 AM
Wish I was in Dubai to see this version..
Painting Company in Dubai - August 23rd, 2016 at 11:23 PM
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: Painters Company Dubai - May 17th, 2018 at 12:34 PM
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