There are many things that I love about living in Norfolk, but the amount of time it takes to get anywhere from here is not one of them. I’m forever wishing I could get out and see more live performances but the timings and costs often don’t work out. That’s why I was pleased to hear the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet was being broadcast live from Stratford-Upon-Avon into cinemas across the country. So on Thursday evening, I was lucky enough to combine two of my favourite things – food and theatre – with a live broadcast of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Romeo and Juliet and dinner at Côte Brasserie.
Dinner at Côte Brasserie
With delicious French cuisine, funny and friendly staff and quick service time, Côte Brasserie is a great place to head before catching a show. Some locations have a dedicated pre-theatre menu, but here in Norwich, we have a great value set menu and an expansive a la carte menu to choose from.
It felt like mission impossible trying to choose our dinner, we eventually settled on two courses – a main and a dessert. I ordered from the set menu and my friend Jaison sampled some dishes from the a la carte menu.
My pan roasted cod was absolutely delicious. It came wrapped in bacon on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with cherry tomatoes and spinach. It was rich, creamy and packed full of flavour. My cod flaked perfectly and melted in my mouth. Jaison’s chargrilled salmon was so good he could have ordered a second portion! (This was definitely a theme for the evening.)
For dessert I opted for the dark chocolate mousse – this was divine, I could have sat and eaten mousse after mousse all night. It was rich and creamy, yet really light and more-ish. Jaison opted for the Praline Crepes – they were so light and fluffy, the praline was rich and gooey, the caramelised bananas and Chantilly cream rounded off the dessert nicely. I’d highly recommend the coffee there too.
We then wandered up to Cinema City with our bellies full and smiles on our faces.
The live broadcast of the RSC’s Romeo and Juliet
This 421-year-old classic tale has bee re-imagined many a time. But in this latest performance directed by Erica Whyman, it’s taken a modern twist. In these rather turbulent times, this tale of love, lust, violence and misrule has never been more relevant.
It was a gripping, emotional performance by the cast. They threw their all into the performance, you could really see the emotion and passion in every movement and facial expression. I could feel their excitement, sadness and pain. Despite the fact, I knew the storyline and what was coming next I found myself hoping and wishing for their happy ending. It really was an outstanding performance that blew me away. It went above and beyond anything I had expected.
Romeo and Juliet has been modernised many a time, but I’ve never seen it done as well as this. The language and storyline remained true to the original, but it was small details, character traits and movements that catapulted it into the modern world. The concrete effect set was bang on trend for the modern day. The soundtrack was packed full of rock music and drum and bass. Granted, that sounds like an odd combination for Shakespeare but it worked oh so well.
Romeo’s swagger and mannerisms seemed so modern, relatable and reminiscent of someone that you’d see out and about on a Friday night. I liked the fact that the cast was diverse and that characters didn’t necessarily have the original genders. Rather scandalously (for Shakespeare) women were actually played by women and even some of the male roles were too. Charlotte Josephine’s performance as Mercutio was ballsy loud and bash – reflective of a more modern woman.
Screen vs Stage
The thing that surprised me the most about this live broadcast of Romeo and Juliet was how real it was. I was sitting in Cinema City, yet it felt like I was in the audience in Stratford-upon-Avon. I had the same feelings and emotional response as I did to a live performance. Normally I’m not a fan of watching things on screen but I’d quite happily make an exception for this. The camera work was absolutely fantastic. The resolution of the screen made it look like the actors were right in front of me. In fact, I probably had a better view that I would have in the theatre. The surround sound made it feel like I was surrounded by the live audience laughing and clapping. If I’m honest I was not expecting that at all.
I had an absolutely fantastic evening of food and theatre. I thoroughly enjoyed my meal at Côte Brasserie, it really is a great place to head before a performance. I’ll definitely be going back (for more chocolate mousse obvs.) The Royal Shakespeare Company’s live broadcast of Romeo and Juliet was outstanding. I honestly wasn’t expecting to be drawn into the performance so much. Nor enjoy seeing it on screen rather than in front of me, but I really did. So if you can’t get across the country to see some live theatre, why not check and see if it’s being broadcast at a cinema? I know I’ll be checking the listings regularly!
The Royal Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet runs in Stratford-upon-Avon until 21st September. It then moves to the Barbican from 2nd November to 19th January, before going on a UK tour. There are dates at Norwich Theatre Royal too.
You can find out more about Cote Brasserie here and check out their menus here.