What I love the most about theatre, and believe me there is a lot, is the way it never fails to surprise me in such beautiful ways at the most unexpected times.
Omidaze is theatre production company that goes beyond the parameters of ‘traditional theatre’; this is a real plus point as in order for theatre to reach more varied audiences we need companies demonstrating diversity. We only have to read Omidaze’s mission statement to see that the company is here to make an impact. ‘Our mission is to use theatre to empower, inform and entertain new audiences and inspire change’; I am pleased to say their actions certainly spoke louder than words at theopening night of the Cardiff run of Romeo & Juliet at Wales Millennium Centre.
The Weston Studio at the Wales Millennium Centre is a large, unrestricted and impressive space to fill and Omidaze’s Romeo & Juliet made maximum use of this space, combining aerial circus with iambic pentameter which certainly captivated the audience and kept their attention when the performers began displaying impressive acrobatic movements.
The inclusion of an acrobatic element to the show was a daring move and most of the time it paid off, my only criticism would be that the acrobatics didn’t need to be used throughout the entire performance as it was sometimes distracting.
As a woman of an ethnic minority it was great to see the diverse cast with BME actors being in the majority and not the minority; I hasten to add that diversity aside the entire cast packed a powerful gusty punch with their commitment to the challenging text that Shakespeare’s work can sometimes be. This was a cast that regardless of it being the opening night of the Cardiff run were exemplary. We were privileged to witness several emerging artists who got the memo and truly left it all out on the stage.
I have seen several productions of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet and each time I find something new about it that I enjoy. I am aware that one of the characteristics of the Nurse is to have humorous moments but huge props to Kayed Mohammed Mason who brought a delicious cheeky humour to the role that resonated well with the audience. Mason later extended his comedic reach when he showed strong dramatic intensity in the scenes of desperation, trying to reason and comfort Juliet when she hears of Romeo’s apparent demise.
A real great choice from director Yvonne Murphy was to let the actors keep their natural accents and dialects. This was demonstrated in none more so than the magnetic Connor Allen who played Romeo. The Welsh tones were in full throttle and made this Shakespeare adaptation ‘keep it real’ and attractive to an audience who may not be so familiar with the formalities of Shakespeare territory.
Omidaze’s latest production has reinforced the company’s reputation for make groundbreaking theatre and I am already looking forward to seeing what they do next.
This is a company that epitomises what the power of theatre can do and how it can influence us. I strongly urge you to see their latest production and prepare to be not just impressed but affected by great theatre.
Wales Millennium Centre until 14th May.