Romeo & Juliet: Rocket Boy Ensemble

Reviewer: FAIL. This is a review that has been lost in my macbook since February but now, finally, here it is! Apologies to Rocket Boy Ensemble. Looking forward to seeing more of your work, guys. Thanks again for the coffee, cupcake and kindness. Your FOH family are the sweetest around. x

Romeo and Juliet 

Rocket Boy Ensemble

Buderim Uniting Church Hall 

10.02.12 – 12.02.12 



The idea was a crazy one, a group of misfits getting together and putting on a show. We all had experience but had never been let loose without a responsible adult present. Anything could happen! It was a little bit scary but in a good way. There were a few bumps and tears along the way but all in all I have to say this was a life changing experience, in which I (and I know the rest of the team) learnt so much, not just from the experience, but from each other.

Danielle Carney, Director.



Rocket Boy Ensemble presents ROMEO AND JULIET from Benjamin Kerwin on Vimeo.



Rocket Boy Ensemble has landed on the Sunshine Coast! A brand new, self-made company of young and ambitious performers, they are all about to take off to uni in various cities. With any luck, their fearless leader, Producer and Director, Danielle Carney, has something else up her sleeve and will entice them home again so that we may enjoy a second brave production soon. Their debut is impressive. It’s Romeo and Juliet on a (self-confessed) check out chick’s budget, which honours the text and brings a fresh set of youthful eyes to the story of sparring families and star-crossed lovers.

In a small church hall, in which the last show I attended, some years ago, was a nativity play, on a Sunday night after a big weekend, I sit for 15 minutes before the show starts, in front of three actors: Ryan Forbes (Romeo), Robert Steel (Balthazar) and Lizzie Mahoney (Juliet). It was certainly a longer wait for the actors than for me (and it was almost too long, lessoning the impact, though giving me time to take in the simple set, dressed in detail by Designer, Vanessa Fernandez; one corner for the Montagues and the other, for Juliet, a Capulet). In typical secondary school ritualistic style, the company attend and share the Prologue (and later, the Epilogue), holding artificial tea light candles and brokering that special deal with their audience: we are actors playing parts and we are going to tell you a story. And it works. This device also worked well to end the piece, leaving the audience in their affected state, wrapping up the tragic story without breaking the spell.

As Juliet, Mahoney is suitably wide-eyed and innocent, in good voice and in love with her Romeo, however; each famous monologue is carelessly rushed and I feel this is more an indication of Mahoney’s inexperience and lack of confidence during those times on stage when there is nobody else to work off, rather than any lack of skill. She has sufficient skill, a great deal of natural ability and a strong stage presence. Mahoney is sure to work with some strong directors, tutors and/or coaches on interpretation, breathing and delivery in the future. She seems, just in those moments by herself in the space, to lack the confidence she exudes in other scenes.

Her Romeo, Ryan Forbes, is gentle and unassuming; he’s a scholar and an indie gentleman. He seems a quietly confident actor and is well matched with Mahoney. Forbes is well supported by Steel as Balthazar, Tom Jermyn as Benvolio and Caitlyn Elliot as Mercutio. It’s interesting transgender casting and it works, but only because Elliot is up to the task, giving us a Mercutio with more bad-ass-goth-rock-chick attitude than a black leather-clad Pink. The unspoken attraction she has for Romeo does not go unnoticed and adds an additional, intriguing, layer to the banter between them. Elliot also gives us her best Lady Capulet but struggles to assume “older” and “mother” (to be fair, just as some young mothers do). Although she is as risqué as I expect any Lady Capulet to be, with her slightly oriental sexy vibe, she doesn’t quite have the maturity – or perhaps, in this case too, the confidence – to pull it off. The mother-daughter relationship is a tough one to nail with both actors being so young and we lose a little bit of lovely depth there. In contrast, in all his strident youth, Joseph Lai is an imposing and abrupt Lord Capulet. Again, it’s such young casting for a man whose “dancing days” have long since past (as a director, you use what you’ve got or you choose a different show) but with his tall stature and a depth of voice that grants immediate seniority, Lai is convincing enough. The audience visibly shudders when he throws Juliet to the floor and turns his back on her. I hope Lai will attend open auditions for our professional companies this year. The voice alone is going to be of pretty immediate value to one of them.

Interesting casting also, is Ellen Parker as Nurse; not the elder, wiser, nurturing mother figure we have come to know typically as Nurse but a young, flippant, BFF hippie chick! Parker’s energy and vibrancy gives this relationship a new, fresh boost of sisterly sorta love but of course, if we are paying attention to the text, the lines don’t always add up. It’s forgivable because somehow, all the pieces have already fit together and the picture is very clear.

Alex Wickett is the hate-driven Tybalt and holds his own in a number of challenging scenes. We see a glimpse of Wickett’s versatility when he returns as the Friar. Props must go to Fight Choreographer, Joseph del Vecchio, who should certainly pursue the craft if it is his preferred line of work as we are always in desperate need of edgy fight choreography in this country! Perhaps it is, indeed his line of work (I’ve not heard the name before), in which case I will beg his pardon for writing of him as if he is another student. In such an intimate space, the fight scenes (and the final scene) leave indelible impressions upon us.

For a high school graduate/uni student produced piece, Carney’s Romeo and Juliet shows us that the youth on the Sunshine Coast are just as talented as we thought…and also, that some of them are willing to lay everything on the line and work even harder than we ever realised they might. Rocket Boy Ensemble’s work is indicative of the type of theatre we would like to see regularly on the coast and locals will need to continue to support it so it can happen more often (and over a longer season). Keep an eye out for Rocket Boy’s return. Being suitably impressed, we’ll certainly keep you up to date with any future endeavours here.



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