A fine version of a timeless tale

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For this year’s open-air performance, The Synergy Theatre Company chose one of the best-loved of all Shakespeare’s plays, the achingly sad tale of Romeo & Juliet.

In the flint-walled confines of Seaford’s historic Crouch Gardens, with the cast in Elizabethan dress and in the fading light of a summer evening beneath a crescent moon, it was difficult not to imagine that the clock had been turned back five hundred years.

The show was directed by David Parton, Synergy’s founder, whose ability to nurture local talent was again to the fore.

With the actors letting the Bard’s words speak for themselves, plus well-staged sword fights leaving the audience to imagine the streets of Verona crowded with members of two feuding families, this was a realistic no-frills production.

Daisy Milner as Juliet was both tender and passionate in expressing her love, not least in exchanges with her Nurse, played by Charlotte Tayler, who displayed the right mix of servility and compassion.

As Romeo, Chris Church was believable throughout, especially when imagining Juliet to be dead, he swallows poison exclaiming, “Thus with a kiss I die”. A line easy to send up, less easy to convince, but he did.

Inevitably, because of the large number of characters, several actors played more than one part. This worked well for Josh Impey as both Paris and Mercutio, less so for Timothy Telford as Escalus, Prince of Verona, whose commanding role at the beginning and end of the play was somewhat compromised when he appeared as a servant.

Joshua Spriggs played fiery Tybalt; Alan Lade the well-meaning Friar Laurence; and Emily Barlow, as Benvolio, sensitively captured the poetry of Shakespeare’s words. A fine production of a timeless story.

Performances continue on Friday, July 19, and Saturday, July 20, at the Village Green, Kingston-near-Lewes.