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Last Friday night, whilst others were attending paint parties and drinking jäger bombs, I visited the Dukes Lancaster to see A Tender Thing.
A remix of Shakespeare’s classic Romeo and Juliet, A Tender Thing imagined what would have happened had the two lovers lived past their twenties.
In fact, Artistic Director Michael Boyd, argues that despite the original teenage context, the language “expresses universal feelings, extremities of love and despair” which aren’t confined to the young but rather can be found in a truly Lancastrian context, between two Morecambe pensioners in A Tender Thing.
What was refreshing about this take on Romeo and Juliet was the fresh level of sass ‘old’ Juliet bought to the stage. For, whilst our Morecambe Romeo was much the same as his Shakespearean counterpart, outrageously in love with his wife, time appeared to have altered Juliet’s response slightly. Much older now, it seemed Juliet had heard her Romeo’s lavish compliments one too many times and simply dismissed it instead; a response I think is much more imaginable.
Whilst the play centres on the relationship between the two pensioners, their speech is repeatedly broken up with short interpretative dances performed by a younger version of themselves, designed to illustrate that familiar rush of young love.
Making use of the round theatre at the Dukes, the younger couple danced and leapt about the central podium that doubled up as both a bed, a dining table and a potting shed with a few tugs of some rope; a simple but effective and efficient way to alter the set.
What was special about the performance was the way in which it illustrated the enduring quality of love that is too often dismissed as foolish or naïve. Rather, the older Romeo and Juliet showed that despite time and age, love can endure and is not restricted to Veronese teenagers.
Despite the warm message A Tender Thing expresses, it is impossible to evoke the story of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet without addressing the theme and of death and grief; something that comes to climax in the second half of A Tender Thing as we see our Morecambe pensioners face the inevitability of death in an end it is impossible not to predict.
Showing from the 1st – 17th October at The Round, The Dukes, Moor Lane, Lancaster, Lancashire LA1 1QE
Tickets available online or from The Dukes Box Office