Oldham Coliseum moves outside for the first time with it’s latest production Star-Cross’d – a brand new, ‘unfaithful’ re-telling of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. The action takes place in the open air setting of Alexandra Park, inviting the audience to follow the promenade production as the actors perform scenes in the park’s stunning surroundings including the ‘Lion’s Den’, Victorian Greenhouse and lake.
Penned by local playwright Ian Kershaw (writer for Channel 4’s Shameless) the play updates the well-known tale of star-crossed lovers and gives it an Oldham twist.
Adam Barlow takes the romantic lead as Robbie O – a typical tracksuit wearing lad who falls for Judama (Anjli Mohindra), a beautiful Bengali student from the local college. Their love is instant but shrouded in conflict as the families they come from (aka the Capulets and Montagues) continue their turf war.
Great acting from Matt Connor as Robbie’s cousin Ben, putting in a fantastic display of humour and grittiness where required-his scenes with Barlow work well and the pair compliment each other. Mina Anwar turns her comedic talent to the role of Nurse and WPC Escalus respectively, The Thin Blue Line actress manages to steal many a scene from the rest of the cast.
Oldham Coliseum has always excelled at involving the community in its theatre offerings and none more so than in this latest one. Alongside the professional cast of 8 actors stars a chorus made up of youth from the area, two local brass bands and a community choir.
The opening night saw a few teething problems with the sound, although it’s to be expected with such an ambitious amount of areas to cover during the 2 and a half hour duration. Hopefully as the run progresses the sound issues will be ironed out – but to be honest the 300 strong crowd watching didn’t seem to mind.
If you are expecting an RSC open air theatre production then this is not the show to see-there’s no period costumes, very little original Shakespeare text and a quite alternative ending (which I won’t spoil by revealing here).
What you are presented with is a panto-esq version of the Bard, a family-friendly show which explains the Romeo and Juliet tale in a way that all can understand, plus throwing in some light hearted entertainment and music along the way.
As the Narrator so rightly proclaims at the start of Star-Cross’d “in Oldham we do things differently” and by ‘eck they certainly do!
Alexandra Park, Oldham
12 – 22 July 2012
Tickets can be booked by calling the box office on 0161 624 2829 or online at www.coliseum.org.uk