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BWW Review: SHARON 'N' BARRY DO 'ROMEO & JULIET', Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, Online

The Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, gives us a very different take on Shakespeare's classic

BWW Review: SHARON 'N' BARRY DO 'ROMEO & JULIET', Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, Online

BWW Review: SHARON 'N' BARRY DO 'ROMEO & JULIET', Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch, Online Sharon and Barry have been married for years. They are in lockdown and getting bored. Having come across Sharon's old school copy of Romeo and Juliet in the attic, they are inspired to help their nephew Alex study the play by acting it out themselves, having inadvertently invited various people to see it on Facebook.

Sharon 'n' Barry do 'Romeo & Juliet' comes live on Zoom from the Queen's Theatre in Hornchurch. Billed as an "everyday comedy", the production benefits from the pairing of David Nellist as Barry and Joanne Seymour as Sharon. Their relationship feels warm, familiar and very genuine. As Sharon and Barry, they have a natural rapport and a sense of that gentle teasing and ease with one another that any couple who have been together a long time will recognise.

Seymour is nervous, affectionate and funny, and Nellist is jovial and earnest. Together, they are just lovely; they could be your own favourite aunt and uncle. Jack Scannell-Wood also does a great job as nephew Alex.

What lets the acting down is the concept of the production itself. What begins as the amusing premise of an amateur couple doing their best to act out a play becomes a little wearing. At 80 minutes, much of Shakespeare's original play been removed, but it simultaneously feels too long: an entertaining sketch, rather than a full-length play.

The short sections where Barry and Sharon engage in conversation as themselves are more entertaining and certainly more interesting. These asides spark interest in the couple as proper characters who could be developed further.

As Barry becomes breathless and has to temporarily stop the production, there is a suggestion that he might mimic Romeo and die in the process, but the production continues only to fade out rather unsatisfactorily.

There are moments of pathos and drama: the balcony scene is done very well with an ingenious use of a makeshift green screen. There is also genuine comedy, such as the use of a miniature cardboard cutout of Michael Gove performing as Tybalt, after the wrong prop was delivered. However, the initial amusement of the terrible blond wig that Barry gamely sports as Romeo, or the fact that Sharon's Juliet dress won't zip up at the back, quickly wanes.

Director Douglas Rintoul has the actors talking directly to the camera as much as to each other. This adds to the feeling of authenticity that we are watching a kind aunt and uncle hamming it up to entertain their nephew: realistic, yes, but also a little like seeing someone else's holiday video.

In theory, this play works perfectly for the current times and the performances of both central characters are very strong. If only we could see more of Barry and Sharon and less of Romeo and Juliet.

Sharon 'n' Barry do 'Romeo & Juliet' is streaming live from the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch until 6 March

Photo Credit: Mark Sepple

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From This Author Aliya Al-Hassan