Romeo & Juliet in Teateravisen

Fun and touching

The Swedish-Finnish-Turkish theatre group tells ”Romeo & Juliet” in a new and exciting way -and with great physical talent.

MishMash Theatre Company is a new feature in the danish theatre enviroment and a new acquaintance for me. The four actors have gathered their education here and there in different places but in commom they have a strong emphasis in clown, Commedia dell'arte and physical theatre and they completed a two year program together in The Commedia School in Copenhagen. And they have gained a lot from it. The ability to effortlessly express themselves physically is strong: The timing, rythm and tempo are musical and carefully balanced, the narrative express sadness as well as hatred and joy – it is simply well done.

Critics are and will remain as old thetre rats. They have seen everything before, many times, Romeo and Juliet is trite and used and must we again...? It's just that Romeo and Juliet is the worlds best piece about burning, hopeless love, like Antigone is the worlds best piece about civil disobedience etc. So, if you are 16 years old and new in the theatre world, you deserve the whole 400 year old story told by Franco Zeffirelli or Baz Luhrman on the big screen, or the national theatre or – like here – an expressive 40 minute version. Because this story is timeless. Period.

Tilbageholdende talent

The four actors of MishMash are dressed in black and white costumes – with small variations, but with a common look. And they have more or less the same backround in education, they have found a common style to play, they can use eachother to illustrate using mime, acrobatics and creating images. They only have themselves. A black backdrop, maybe – but no props, no advanced light design, no scenography. All they need is the ability to act together, to create pictures and dissolve them, to vary between slow and fast, high and low, strong and delicate, warm and cold.

They are not only, not at all, and I have to be carefull so I don't overemphasize the physicality. They are not circus artist or acrobats or mimers. They are pure and simple actors with a very physical perspective on acting. And I frapperes af that their talent is never bragged with. This is no show off, not a display of ”we know all the tricks in the book”. When they find a striking transition or a dramatical frozen moment, it is because the story needs it, not because they can do it. All of the actors play many many roles but one remembers Jens Molander and Elif Temucin as Romeo and Juliet, Erkan Uyaniksoy as Mercutio and Päivi Raninen as both priest and altar.

Shakespeares story
For those who know the famous story, all the important scenes are included: The first meeting, the marriage, the duel between Mercutio and Thybalt, Romeos excile, the poison and the irreversible death in the tomb. In this way, the essential situations are both presented and explained. But I am sure that a (preferably solid) prior knowledge of the story would help tremendously the above-mentioned 16-year-old. Both considering the understanding of the story and catching many of the dramatical and comical situations that arise during the play.

There are many priceless moments, like when the crucifix speaks at the wedding or when a tooth is being hit out during a fight and appears again many scenes later but these kind of funny moments – gags – are never a coincidence. Every idea is within the form and the laughter of the audience is nothing to revel in.

Both falling in love, drama and pain get their share in this interpretation of Romeo and Juliet. This agile ensemble manages to give space to most of it, but not for everything. ”Romeo and Juliet” in the end needs more then 40 minutes.

But bending over the pommel horse in the gym (I came too late to secure myself a chair) I was surrounded by jubilant teenagers when the show was over.

By: Janken Varden (Teateravisen, 9/6 2014)