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HOME: Romeo & Juliet, Victoria Baths, Previewed

Shakespeare gets a lick of East European criminality in MCR's Edwardian 'water palace'

Written by . Published on September 5th 2014.

HOME: Romeo & Juliet, Victoria Baths, Previewed

HOME, Manchester's new £25m city centre multi-arts complex (set to open in Spring 2015), continue their policy of conquering temporary homelessness with what promises to be another highly imaginative drama in an unusual space.

The production will return both water and romance to the building as one of the three pools will be filled with 86,000 gallons of water.

Their forthcoming production of the Shakespearean classic and 'greatest love story ever told', Romeo and Juliet, will be performed in Manchester’s partially restored Grade II* listed Victoria Baths on Hathersage Road.

The production, in the hands of HOME’s new artistic director Walter Meierjohann, presents the story as a ‘contemporary fairy-tale, set in a menacing and violent criminal underworld of Eastern Europe’.

Romeo will be played by Alex Felton, already an experienced Shakespearean lover, while Sara Vickers, recently seen in Morse spin-off Endeavour, takes the role of Juliet.

With a professional cast of thirteen, supported by a chorus ensemble drawn from Manchester Metropolitan University’s drama course, the production will feature live Eastern European music by Macedonian composer Nikola Kodjabashia and choreography by Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy, a former member of Danny Boyle’s creative team for London 2012’s opening ceremony.

It promises to be a lively production.

Romeo & JulietRomeo & Juliet

Victoria BathsVictoria Baths

Of course, the building presents serious challenges, not least the acoustics. But producer Sara Robinson promises that sound supervisor Paul Gregory has found the solution.

The Victoria Baths, no longer functioning as such, opened in 1906 by the then Lord Mayor J. Herbert Thewlis who described it as a 'water palace of which every citizen of Manchester is proud'. It cost £59,000, apparently with ‘no expense was spared’, giving it three pools, segregated by class and gender, a marvellous interior cladding of glazed tiles and stained glass windows.

Closed in 1993 it was the first successful bidder for the BBC’s Restoration funds, and has had £5 million of work done in recent years, thanks to the work of the Victoria Baths Trust and Friends. It’s well worth a visit, even without a Shakespearean in performance.

The production will return both water and romance to the building as one of the three pools will be filled with 86,000 gallons of water. As for romance, the Trust’s website tells the story of George Woodall’s proposal to Agnes at the 1947 New Year Ball. Apparently one of the pools would be covered over during winter months for use as a ballroom. Shakespeare’s ball scene returns the concept.

This production will play to a total audience of 5,500 and tickets are now via waiting list only.

Walter MeierjohannWalter Meierjohann

Romeo and Juliet will be performed at Victoria Baths, Hathersage Road, Chorlton-on-Medlock, Manchester, M13 0FE 

From 19 September until 4 October.

For further information go to homemcr.org/romeo-and-juliet 

More information about Victoria Baths can be found at their website www.victoriabaths.org.uk

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