According to Reid, under former artistic director McAnuff, Shakespeare productions “slipped and stumbled”. He compared Carroll’s production to “shaking hands with a dear, trusted friend who has been away awhile.”
“In Carroll’s production, the meter is the master…The emotional qualities of the moment take a back seat to the formal qualities of the language – which, in turn, are supposed to convey those emotional qualities, and with more subtlety and complexity than any one actor’s performance could deliver.”
Coulbourn felt Romeo and Juliet’s relationship is rarely “brought to life.” He notes that Topham has “some lovely, if overly shrill, moments of girlish innocence”, while Briere appears “strangely and determinedly detached throughout”.
Nestruck notes that director Tim Carroll offers an original interpretation, adding…”If this production, opening Antoni Cimolino’s first season as artistic director, is a reaction to his predecessor Des McAnuff’s occasional inattentiveness to language, it is an overreaction.”
Ouzounian compiles a list of reasons why he didn’t enjoy the show, including: Director Tim Carroll’s “original principles” staging, “the appalling performance of Romeo by Daniel Briere”, invisible lighting cues and “music-hall style performances.” He does give kudos to Topham, Savage, Nadajewski and McCamus
Cushman analyzes the Elizabethan influenced Stratford production of “Romeo and Juliet”, understanding “This isn’t the only way of doing Shakespeare, but it’s a valid and at this moment a revelatory one. It makes some of the overstuffed hi-tech productions of recent years look old-fashioned.”
Portman identified a ” distressing lack of chemistry” between Briere and Topham as “Romeo and Juliet”. He credited Grant’s performance in “Measure for Measure”, but found “Rooney convinces us neither of Angelo’s fanatical obsession with ‘fornication and uncleanliness’ nor of his uncontrollable lust for Isabella.”
Smith regards Topham as “a beautiful, graceful Juliet, filled with the sweet awakening of love. She speaks Shakespeare’s poetry with a gentle, romantic lilt.” However, he notes that other than her performance, “nothing much works in this clumsy production.”
Greason didn’t enjoy the “original practices” use of lighting, as it “comes off as simply lazy, and the visible audience hurts the play’s intimacy.” He gives credit to the accurate acting, finding “Goad particularly shines as the ribald Mercutio.”
Monaghan found Carroll’s approach “makes the nearly three-hour show run a little more smoothly but stifles some of the emotion, from Romeo’s reaction to the riot to his discovery of Juliet in her tomb.” He calls the lighting “a memorable bit of stagecraft in an otherwise forgettable production.”
Hadley reviews “Romeo and Juliet”, “Blithe Spirit”, and “Mary Stuart”. He enjoyed the “original practices” method in “Romeo and Juliet”, but thought Briere “is not effective”. Hardley praises the “superb” cast of “Blithe Spirit” and states director “Cimolino has assembled one of Stratford’s best casts in years” for “Mary Stuart”.
Reviewing two plays, Slotkin suggests that Tyrone Savage, an up-and-comer in “Romeo and Juliet”, could have played Romeo. Slotkin gives kudos to the graduates of Stratford’s Birmingham Conservatory that Martha Henry cast in “Measure for Measure.” Henry is the Director of the Conservatory and responsible for the training.
Fischer finds common themes in the various productions he saw, including “Tommy”, “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Waiting For Godot” and a preview of “Taking Shakespeare”. He notes “Cimolino has succeeded, spectacularly — allowing plays written and set centuries apart to speak to each other and to us in new ways.”
“As an introduction to Shakespeare, this could work well [but] it was hard to shake the feeling that the play was more comedic than it should be, and I felt myself longing for some semblance of the true Shakespearean tragedy by the end of the evening.”
Dorian regards “Fiddler on the Roof”, “Measure for Measure”, “Romeo and Juliet” and “Tommy”. He praises Feore’s “inspired direction and choreography” in “Fiddler on the Roof” and the “successful ensemble effort” in “Measure for Measure”. Dorian calls Topham “a luminous Juliet” and states “Cilento’s choreography is thrilling”.
The critics felt the simple set design “allowed the natural arc of the play to really come forward” brining “incredible focus to the performers and the text”. Topham and Briere’s performances “really inhabited the essence of their characters”.
Dale disliked how the title characters “are resurrected just in time to take part in a rousing song and dance number that would make the producers of TV’s cloying Glee recoil in embarrassment and horror.” He enjoyed Topham,McCamus,and Savage but said Briere had “the least appealing performance of the night”.
O’Connor felt Topham “shows she is up to the task” as Juliet, but stated Briere’s performance as Romeo was “less successful”. Despite the contrast and missing chemistry, he felt the production made up for it with “the power of Shakespeare’s script and the great work of the supporting cast”.
Godfrey states ” It appears Mr. Carroll asked his cast to give it [iambic pentameter] a whirl, but only Tom McCamus (Friar Laurence) and Jonathan Goad (Mercutio) really use it consistently and to any advantage.” She felt the whole production “is an interesting experiment in time-travel…solidly acted for the most part.”
Hoile called the most of the “Romeo and Juliet” cast “ill-prepared to act Shakespeare at all, much less in the style of Original Practices.” He praises Nadajewski who “makes more of the small role of Peter, the Nurse’s servant, than most of the actors do of larger parts.” Hoile also credits Topham and Wentworth.
Alderson thought Topham and Briere “play the roles as the children they were intended to be. Topham is a juvenile 14, giggling her way throughout. Briere also seems very immature, smiling inappropriately much of the time…As a result the audience is not invested in their relationship; in fact, they seem to be infatuated school kids with crushes.”
Simpson stated calling “Romeo and Juliet” disappointing “would be an epic understatement”. He found “Carroll’s approach to the great tragic love story was so mannered, artificial and off-putting that neither Shakespeare nor Stratford came off looking like anything a theater-lover would want to waste time watching.”