Romeo & Juliet

Written by William Shakespeare

Thurs 21st - Sat 23rd November & Tues 26th - Sat 30th November 2002

Directed by Zoë Chapman

Against a violent backdrop of civil conflict, an intense love emerges, more powerful and ultimately more destructive than the hatred that divides the lover's families.
'Romeo & Juliet' has a youthful energy and some of Shakespeare's most stunning language. For the past four centuries the universal themes of love, lust and family loyalty have appealed to audiences of all ages and all walks of life. Without a doubt it is one of the greatest, and most tragic, love stories ever told.

Love is supposed to conquer all, but in an unjust world nothing is quite so black and white.

AuthorWilliam Shakespeare

William Shakespeare (1564 - 1616)

Shakespeare is considered by many to be the greatest playwright of all time and is possibly the most famous playwright in the English-speaking world. Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, he was also probably educated there however, very little is known of his early life. The next documented event in his life is his marriage in 1582 to Anne Hathaway. The couple had a daughter the following year and twins in 1585. Another gap followed (referred to by some scholars as 'the lost years') with Shakespeare only reappearing in London in 1592, when he was already working in the theatre.

Shakespeare's acting career was spent with the Lord Chamberlain's Company, which was renamed the King's Company in 1603 when James succeeded to the throne. The group acquired interests in two theatres in the Southwark area of London, near the banks of the Thames - the Globe and the Blackfriars.

Shakespeare's poetry was published before his plays, with two poems appearing in 1593 and 1594, dedicated to his patron Henry Wriothesley, Earl of Southampton. Most of Shakespeare's sonnets (of which there were 154 in all) were probably written at this time as well. Records of Shakespeare's plays begin to appear in 1594 - the first of which was Richard III - and he produced roughly two a year until around 1611 making 37 in all. Shakespeare spent the last five years of his life in Stratford, and he was buried in the Holy Trinity Church there. The first collected edition of his works wasn't published until 1623, some 7 years after his death.

PlayRomeo & Juliet

Romeo and Juliet is a tragedy written early in Shakespeare's career, about two young "star-cross'd lovers" whose deaths ultimately unite their feuding families. It is not known exactly when Shakespeare wrote the play, but it is thought to be around 1594 - 1595. It was among Shakespeare's most popular plays during his lifetime and, along with 'Hamlet' and 'Macbeth', is one of his most frequently performed plays

It has been adapted numerous times for stage, film, musical and opera. Adaptations of recent years have most notably included the 1950s stage musical 'West Side Story', and Baz Luhrmann's 1996 'Romeo + Juliet' which starred Leonardo Di Caprio and Claire Danes.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet borrows from a tradition of tragic love stories dating back to antiquity. Its plot is based on an Italian tale, translated into verse as 'The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet' by Arthur Brooke in 1562. Shakespeare borrowed heavily from the poem but to expand the plot, developed supporting characters, particularly Mercutio and Paris.

The Bench Production

Romeo & Juliet poster image

This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.


The Capulets:

CapuletJaspar Utley
Lady CapuletSue Dawes
JulietJessica Grindley
TybaltAndrew Caple
NurseIngrid Corrigan
PeterLiam Penny
SampsonRichard Le Moignan
GregoryMartin McBride
Cousin CapuletDarren Corps

The Montagues:

MontagueAlan Welton
Lady MontagueJenny Taylor
RomeoNathan Chapman
BenvolioPaul Davies
BalthasarFrancine Huin-Wah
AbramVicky Hayter
PageEllie Dawes

The Others:

PrinceSimon Walton
MercutioMark Wakeman
ParisDavid Penrose
Friar LaurenceJohn Scadding
Friar JohnMartin McBride
ApothecaryEllie Dawes
ChorusSusie Borton
WatchmenRichard Le Moignan
Martin McBride
Vicky Hayter
ServantsHeidi Brockhurst
Liam Penny


Director Zoë Chapman
Assistant Director Damon Wakelin
Backstage Kymberleigh Anderson
Paula Gilfillan
Fiona Fairhurst
Costumes Megan Utley
Lucy Haigh
Jenny Taylor
Props Alice Corrigan
Ellie Dawes
Masks Megan Day
Banners & Flags Sue Dawes
Ellie Dawes
Lighting Designer Jacquie Penrose
Lighting Operator Derek Callam
Sound Operator Sharman Callam
Sound Recordist Nathan Chapman
Programme Design Derek Callam
Zoë Chapman
Front of House Robin Hall
Paul Millington


The NewsJames George

Torches Burn Bright With Surprises

Novice director Zoë Chapman coaxes some fine performances from her Bench Theatre cast. For example, if there were one person I would never have cast as Mercutio it is Mark Wakeman. He is - to my eye - everything Mercutio isn't. Completely wrong. But Chapman has gone against my better judgement and proves that her better judgement is superior to mine. Wakeman's performance is, quite simply, superb. He is the most funny, original and inventive Mercutio I can remember.

Nathan Chapman's Romeo is on pretty solid ground, too. The emotional range is certainly there, but it would be good to see some more of the quieter playing at times. John Scadding's completely dotty Friar Lawrence gets the prize for verse-speaking, though. Again I have never seen the character played like this - but it works. Warm, funny and completely barking. And mention for Jessica Grindley, who is apparently making her debut with the mother of all parts for girls her age. She speaks Juliet's lines clearly and with great understanding, but needs to learn the art of texture. There is clearly life in the old amateur stage yet.

The News, Friday 22nd November 2002

Production Photographs