Probably better than mine. Although I can now argue I’m freshly revised on Romeo and Juliet. Anyone know how old Juliet or Romeo were meant to be? 14 and 17 years respectively.

Our 17 year old, Harry, took part in the Sodbury Players Youth Section (SPYS) production of R&J last week, running from Thursday to Saturday. This wonderful take on the classic tale of love and woe was brought together by their inspirational leader, Ross Andrews, and featured modern touches, music, a huge street fight and dance numbers – oh, and five Romeos (including ‘ar Harry) and five Juliets.

There are a few wonderful takeaways from these performances:

  1. Kids are amazing. And lovely. And brilliant. And so capable.
  2. An inspiring leader with a clear vision can make wonderful things happen.
  3. Especially if that leader trusts the people around them to create, and take responsibility and ownership, and then backs that up with unwavering support and loyalty.
  4. Shakespeare is both difficult and easy to follow simultaneously, and sudden bits of genius insight on the human condition pop up out of nowhere and kick you right in the feels.
  5. This cast will never be a better age to play Romeo and Juliet. While watching, you catch yourself thinking: “Aren’t kids great at this!” But then you remember, they are playing characters of the same age. You could never see a more relevant Romeo and Juliet than this.

This production was unique, joyful and, so importantly, relevant. It spoke of teenage love through teenage voices, and shared contemporary concerns of gang rivalries and knife fights. And when Mercutio suggested he and his friends went for a kebab, the reality of a drunken night out in 1590s Verona didn’t seem so far removed from Bristol, 2023.

While brands may aspire for uniqueness, they can miss the importance of being relevant – to demonstrate they really do understand the context in which they find their audience. Ross Andrews and his amazing SPYS demonstrated this in abundance.