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A Tender Thing

Published by: Kirstie Niland on 11th Oct 2015 | View all blogs by Kirstie Niland

The Dukes, Lancaster

Until Saturday 17th October

Ben Power’s re-working of the greatest love story ever told has resulted in a beautiful and bittersweet production which more than lives up to its name. A Tender Thing looks at what might have happened if Romeo and Juliet had lived and stayed together beyond their youth.

The result is a gentle, mesmerising tale of two Morecambe pensioners reaching the end of their lives after decades of happiness by the sea, having suffered loss amidst the love and laughter. A Tender Thing is a poignant but powerful tale of young love grown old.

The Duke’s theatre in the round provides the intimate setting for this clever work of art, brought to life under the direction of Louie Ingham. Ben Power has seamlessly woven together the text of Romeo and Juliet with some of Shakespeare's sonnets to create the tale of a couple whose love has stood the test of time but who eventually face the same threat of separation as the original star-crossed lovers.

The elderly partners are given dialogue from other characters to stretch their story over the additional decades, for example their childlessness is attributed to the death of their daughter with words from the nurse who cared for the young Juliet in the classic play. Then when Juliet discovers she is terminally ill and does not want its consequences to change her in the eyes of her lifelong mate, Romeo uses words from the famous love Sonnet 116 to reassure her: “Love is not love which alters when it alteration finds.” And just as the Bard's Romeo and Juliet addressed themes of youth and age, so does Ben Power’s version, with the lithe young Lucas Button and Ruby Henderson using interpretive dance in a haunting depiction of the aged couple’s younger selves and their memories as they reflect on events and each other.  

Shakespeare’s words bring warmth and tenderness to a familiar bedtime routine, as the weary but still playful pair bid each other goodnight: “Parting is such sweet sorrow that I’ll say good night until tonight becomes tomorrow....Oh blessed, blessed night.” But true to the classic tragedy a grey morning awaits them.

Rachel Daniels’ minimal set features a multi-purpose box which is transformed realistically into a bed and a dining table by the cast, and the seaside setting is peppered with deck chairs, baskets and sea shells as the sands of time quite literally drift away under the fading light.

A Tender Thing is a moving mix of emotions and words, with Ian Blower and Jenny Lee as the aged Romeo and Juliet both endearing and believable in their mature but ever-youthful love for each other.

Photographs courtesy of The Dukes, Lancaster.

Tickets £12.50 to £16.50 online or at with from the Box Office: 01524 598500

                

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