Production 1986

Photo shows Sean Bean as Romeo and Niamh Cusack as Juliet in the RSC's 1986 production. Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Michael Bogdanov's 1986 modern-dress production of Romeo and Juliet boldly cut the text after Juliet's suicide, replacing it with the Prologue. It was spoken by Prince Escalus to a crowd of journalists and photographers in a cynical exploitation of the dead lovers.

Sean Bean as Romeo and Niamh Cusack as Juliet possessed sincerity and innocence in contrast to the materialistic and hypocritical Italian society around them. This world was evoked on stage with Armani suits, jazz bands and a glamorous Tybalt in black leather in a red sports car. Romeo poisoned himself with a drug from a hypodermic needle.

Here's what theatre critic Michael Coveney said about the design of the play:
'Chris Dyer's Cubist-inspired set, a revolving central unit of white staircase and landings, is backed by changing photographic blow-ups, huge and grainy, of Sloanes, clones, cops and bits of architecture. Side-balconies extend into the auditorium. On one the five-piece band plays, commenting on the action like a film score - in the case of Romeo's suicide, by hypodermic, with hilarious incongruity.'
Financial Times, 9 April 1986

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Photo shows Sean Bean as Romeo and Niamh Cusack as Juliet in the RSC's 1986 production. Joe Cocks Studio Collection © Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

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