Claremont Dramatic Society stages Romeo and Juliet

The entire cast of Romeo and Juliet before rehearsals at the Claremont Dramatic Society.

The Claremont Dramatic Society is taking William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet to Muizenberg’s The Masque Theatre.

This version of the play is set in Camps Bay and directed by Sheldon Cross, a drama teacher at Camps Bay High School.

He’s giving the Elizabethan classic about the two star-crossed lovers and their feuding families a contemporary feel.

Cross has previously directed A Midsummer Night’s Dream and was eager to take another crack at the Bard’s oeuvre.

“The most important thing about this story,” he says, “was looking at what families do to their children and the historical trauma of families and how it gets carried down from generation to generation.”

This production has a cast of 19 with an inter-generational mix of actors.

UCT accountancy student Tom Tew, 23, plays Romeo, alongside his Juliet, Anna Boshoff, of Stellenbosch.

“I feel that Shakespeare has this timelessness to his writing. To be able to portray that character is something quite special, and I am really up for the challenge,” says Tew, who has worked with Cross before on A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Michelle Belknap, of Claremont, plays Lady Capulet, Juliet’s mother. She has more than 30 years experience in both amateur and professional theatre, and appeared in previous productions of Maccbeth and A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

“I am very much the rich man’s wife, who knows which side her bread is buttered on,” she says of her latest role. “It has been an interesting interpretation of the character. It is such a well-known story, its production will bring a slightly different view and perspective.”

Gert Agenbach, 42, an animator from Observatory, is Prince Escalus.

This is his second amateur theatre production, having previously appeared in Billy Liar.

“I always wanted to get experience in playing in a Shakespeare play, and this was a good opportunity that came along,” he says.

Matthew Roy, the dramatic society’s vice chairman, says they always enjoy doing Shakespeare.

“It’s a lot of fun; we managed to take it to different places and settings. It’s not the same old tired version. We were trying to change it, bring it up to date.”

Roy takes on the role of Romeo’s cousin and close friend, Benvolio.

Romeo and Juliet will be on at The Masque Theatre until Saturday April 27. Show times are: Friday April 12 at 8pm, Saturday April 13 at 6.30pm, Thursday April 18 at 8pm, Saturday April 20 at 6.30pm, and from Wednesday April 24 to Friday April 26, at 8pm.
There are 2.30pm and 6.30pm shows on Saturday April 27. Tickets cost R100. Book at Computicket or or 021 788 1819.