Lost Dog’s latest production ‘Juliet & Romeo’ comes to Riley Theatre on Wednesday 14th November.
Ahead of the performance, we invited Lost Dog’s founder and artistic director Ben Duke, to tell us a little about the creative process and what our audience can expect to take away from the show.
Q. ‘JULIET & ROMEO’ – Is this the story of what might have happened had Romeo and Juliet lived?
BEN DUKE: Yes. When I watch Romeo and Juliet I am always hoping that their timings will be a little different and Juliet will wake up a few moments earlier. I know she never will, but I can’t help hoping for it. The idea for this piece came from allowing myself to imagine that alternate version. In this work, the couple have been together for about 25 years.
Q. Are they happy? How do they feel about each other after 25 years?
BEN DUKE: At the point that this piece is set they are in something of a marital crisis. Basically, they love each other and sometimes they wish the other one were dead. The bloom of teenage romance has faded but it haunts them.
Q. What inspired you to make it?
BEN DUKE: A feeling that we aren’t that honest about relationships in our culture and that too many stories focus on how relationships start rather than how they continue.
Q. Had you seen stage/film versions of the original before you made your piece?
BEN DUKE: I have seen several versions. Baz Lurhman’s film version came out at a time when I was particularly impressionable lodged in my memory.
Q. Can you describe the characters?
BEN DUKE: Romeo is in the middle of a mid-life crisis and so his character is trying to re-shape itself. He is trying to let go of the passionate, over the top teenager he was and become a man. But he doesn’t have any clear idea what that man should look like, so he is in limbo. Juliet is very attached to the extraordinary teenager she was and is finding the ordinariness of her current life a struggle.
Q. Do you think the audience will like them?
BEN DUKE: At times – if you had them around for dinner, you would probably find them a little self-obsessed.
Q. Tell us about casting and working with Solène Weinachter
BEN DUKE: Solène is someone I first worked with when I made a piece called ‘The Life and Times of Girl A’ for Scottish Dance Theatre back in 2010. She is a brilliant performer and someone I knew would be willing to spend time in the painful and ridiculous process that we went through.
Q. And what do you hope audiences will take away with them after seeing the work?
BEN DUKE: A sense of realistic optimism about the state of their relationships – past, present or future.
Q. This will be the Yorkshire debut of Juliet & Romeo. What are you most looking forward to about performing at Riley Theatre, based at Northern School of Contemporary Dance?
BEN DUKE: As a company, we have a strong connection with the Riley Theatre and with NSCD. I have spent a lot of time in the building delivering workshops, being part of the apprenticeship scheme (which led to us working with the brilliant Nina Morgane), and creating work with third-year students and with VERVE. I love the energy of the place. It sits on the edge of the city in an unlikely location and yet as soon as you walk in, it has a feeling of vibrant creativity. The students have a rare optimism and openness which made working with them incredibly rewarding. Despite all the time spent in the building, Lost Dog hasn’t performed at the Theatre since 2012 so we’re looking forward to returning with our latest work and sharing it with the Riley audience.