Balcony? What balcony?

Romeo and Juliet is being performed by Groundlings Theatre Company at Groundlings Theatre, Portsea from March 8-18.
Romeo and Juliet is being performed by Groundlings Theatre Company at Groundlings Theatre, Portsea from March 8-18.
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Desperately in love, she declares it for all the world to hear. Her lover, feeling exactly the same, stands hidden in the shadows below to announce that he loves her too.

It’s one of the most famous scenes in theatre history; the balcony scene in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

But in Groundlings Theatre Company’s version of the play (March 8-18), there’s no balcony because it suggests there isn’t one in the original play.

Director Richard Stride says: ‘I’ve always felt it’s a misunderstood play. With that scene at no point is a balcony mentioned.

‘It’s a misconception as Elizabethan houses didn’t have balconies on the outside, only on the inside in the courtyard. In that scene Juliet could even be downstairs.’

Chosen because it’s one of his favourite plays, Richard wanted to break away from traditional ideas surrounding the iconic play.

He says: ‘There’s so many misconceptions from previous ideas, and people just take those on board as that’s how it’s done. Juliet is often portrayed as quite a desperately in love child.

‘If you put it into context, she’s fallen in love at one party, and they get married a day later. So actually she’s quite manipulative. She wants what she wants, and she’s damn well going to get it.’

Playing Lord Capulet in the play itself, Richard has given it a modern twist, and set the play bang in the middle of the 1980s.

He explains: ‘It’s bringing Shakespeare’s production into the 20th century because there are similarities from when the play was originally set.

‘You had the Levellers and Diggers going on strike with Queen Elizabeth 1, and it’s similar to the miners’ strikes, and all the various upheaval that was created with Thatcher’s rule. It all fits in very well.’

Emma Nuden, who’s recently been accepted into the National Youth Music Theatre, will play Juliet, while Simon Harkness will play Romeo.

Tickets cost £6.50 to £8.50 from Groundlings Theatre, Portsea on (023) 9273 7370 or go to groundlings.co.uk.