Photographer: Nicole Cleary (Rebecca Bastiaensz and Samuel Rowe)

Hot chocolate, blankets and the backdrop of the Ripponlea Mansion calls you to a wonderful evening in the garden with the theatre of Shakespeare.

The Australian Shakespeare Company is celebrating 30 years of extraordinary theatre. This adaption of Romeo and Juliet is exceptionally directed by Glenn Elston OAM a legend in the Shakespeare company. Elston weaves the Shakespearean team’s magic into this fatal love story that has no other name but Romeo and Juliet. The prose and poetry are kept so sweet by the musical direction of Paul Norton that this powerful story is kept fresh and new for all ages to appreciate.

In keeping with the contemporary spirit of the production and the youth of Romeo and Juliet’s characters two new thespians Samuel Rowe (Romeo) and Ayesha Madon (Juliet) take their title namesakes onto centre stage. This classic tale centres around firstly, mateship – the all too familiar place - just as in the Australian cultural idiom of mateship that embodies equality, loyalty and friendship between young men. Paul Morris is at his mark as the cheeky but loyal Mercutio, a master actor coming into ones own before exiting with Khisraw Jones-Shukoor as Tybalt setting the scene for the family rivalries of one of the most famous written works of Shakespare to come into fruition.

The choreography by Sue-Ellen Shook reverberates similar to the Baz Luhrmann production Moulin Rogue that she was a part of, and the show is now set for a fantastic ride with outlandish costumes (by Karla Erenbots) in true Bollywood fashion. Living in today’s society we are told that relationship and love will conquer all and family rivalries cannot get in the way of true love, yet even for this young couple here, their possible demise is because of only having lived different cultural lives and not just settling on an arranged marriage or by not making a cultural sacrifice for tradition. These do not come to much if you lose your loved one in the process. What is the point of fighting in the first place if your life is lived by or through someone else? These are some of the strong themes that make this Shakespearian production timeless.

Rating: 4/5 stars