Baghdad love story for RSC Romeo and Juliet

By IH 02/05 Updated: 02/05 10:06

Romeo And Juliet In Baghdad

RSC Swan Theatre

Stratford

SHAKESPEARE was forever adapting the work of others and now his work is regularly used as the foundation for new works.

The Iraqi Theatre Company's Romeo and Juliet is a re-imagining set in post war Baghdad. It's more a case of one nation divided than two households, as the country attempts to rid itself of the sectarian strife and cycle of violence which has become a part of everyday life.

The Montague and Capulet fathers are actually brothers at loggerheads over a boat left by their father, making the star-crossed lovers cousins. They fell in love nine years previously during the invasion of Iraq. They are now reunited at a party and realise their feelings remain the same. They marry but the spurned Paris (Allawi Hussein) here is not one to mess with. The stereotypical dark glasses and combat gear clad Mujahadeen takes his revenge in the end blowing the couple to smithereens.

The passion of this Romeo (Ahmed Salah Moneka) and Juliet (Sarwa Rasool) is clear, as are the troubles that pursue them in a very patriarchal world.

We also have a Benvolio (Ameer Hussein) who dreams of being like his hero Lionel Messi, representing the aspirations of his fellow countrymen, and a hate-fuelled gun-totting Tybalt (Hasanain Salam), clearly demonstrating just how far Iraq has got to go to unite it's people.

In Arabic with surtitles, some of the cultural references are lost, as is some of the humour, but this is a powerful production which clearly demonstrates just what Iraqis have been through, and what they are still trying to overcome.

For tickets and further details visit www.worldshakespearefestival.org.uk or call the box office on 0844 800 1110.

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