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Romeo & Juliet in Eastville Park Swimming Pool


20th June - 29th July 2018


“My only love, sprung from my only hate”


After an award winning year, ‘Site Specific Theatre Masters’ (Bristol 24/7) Insane Root return with an ambitious and vibrant open-air adaptation of Shakespeare‘s enduring tale of love-at-first-sight. We invite you to enter a new vision of Verona - hidden in plain sight - full of ferocious brawls, raucous parties and secret trysts.


Staged and abridged in response to the atmospheric treasure of the Eastville Park Old Swimming Pool Garden, this rollercoaster of a show features an ensemble of ten performers playing multiple roles, our hallmark live singing, thrilling fight sequences and an original score by Ellie Showering.


But as old rivalries turn to bloody murder, be careful not to get caught in the cross-fire...


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION Running time: approx 100 mins. There is no reserved seating, although there are a number of benches provided on the upper levels and inside the pool. If you have access needs please contact the company. This production is wheelchair accessible. This is an open-air production and will go ahead even in the case of bad weather: please consult our Wet Weather Policy and Cancellation Policy. Please bring warm layers as it can get very cold outside at night and comfortable shoes are advised due to the nature of the environment and style of staging. On arrival for the performance please check in at the Box Office - you will be taken to the performance space at the allotted time. Latecomers will not be admitted.  There are limited toilet facilities available on site. No photography, or recording of any kind, is permitted.   Further restrictions apply - see FAQ for details.


Peter Clifford - Capulet

Peter Edwards - Romeo

Amy Gardyne - Chorus / Servant / Apothecary / Musician

James Halliday - Benvolio

Richard Holt - Montague / Friar Lawrence

Kate Kordel - Lady Capulet

Brad Morrison - Tybalt / Friar John

Jessica Temple - Juliet

Deborah Tracey - Prince / Nurse

Dan Wheeler - Mercutio / Paris


Hannah Drake - Director / Adapter

Carol Fairlamb - Voice Support

Michelle Gaskell - Choreographer / Movement Director

Jess Hardy - Seamstress

Fran Horler - Assistant Designer / Maker

Matthew Iliffe - Assistant Director

Tom Jordan - Fight Director

James Lisk - Deputy Stage Manager

Edmund McKay - Lighting Designer

Justin Palmer - Producer / Production Manager / Adapter

​Emmy Seal - Company Stage Manager

Ellie Showering - Musical Director / Composer

Laura Street - Associate Movement Director

Sarah Warren - Designer

Front of House Team: Rozie Jackson, Jennifer Jope, Johanna Byron, Ryan O'Shea, Justin Palmer, Ellie Showering, Hannah Drake

Promo shots by Thomas Max Katan

Rehearsal  & Production Photography by Jack Offord


Kathryn & Tom Raftery


Chris Colyer

Linda Marklew

Allison McIntosh-Smith

Anna Nicholsby

Esther Williams







BEHIND THE SCENES : Shakespeare in a Swimming Pool

Interview taken from Bristol 24/7 preview of 25/05/18 by Steve Wright 

After their triumphant, site-specific reimaginings of Macbeth (Redcliffe Caves – our review) and Orpheus and Eurydice (Suspension Bridge Vaults – our review), Bristol’s uniquely place-sensitive theatre company Insane Root return this summer with another thoughtful match-up of play and place: Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, performed in the former swimming pool within Eastville Park.

Built as a Victorian lido, the pool was damaged by shrapnel in World War II and subsequently turned into a community garden. Insane Root’s R&J will feature a company of ten performers playing multiple roles, weaving in and amongst the audience, and will showcase the company’s hallmark live singing, with fight sequences, dynamic staging and dance.

Here are producer Justin Palmer and director Hannah Drake to tell us more.

So, why Romeo and Juliet… and why a former swimming pool?
Justin: We always find our locations first and then think about what complements them best. About a year ago we were approached by a permaculture design student who had heard of our previous work and thought that the old lido here would be a great location for us. She was right! The space feels very theatrical. The walkway around the pool and the steps down into it offer different height options, plus a natural ‘amphitheatre’ feel. It also provides us with our potential balcony, plus various natural and man-made barriers for Romeo to clamber over to reach Juliet. Furthermore, the whole place (on a sunny day!) could be an old Italian piazza that has been left to nature.

How do this venue’s challenges and opportunities compare with your previous venues – Redcliffe Caves, the Suspension Bridge Vaults?
Hannah: The most significant challenge with this production, compared with our previous locations, is the fact that it’s open to the elements (rather than underground!). This is a fairly big shift in terms of how we use sound and light, but because the pool is enclosed it still feels as though you’re stepping into a separate world.

The fading daylight (and whatever the weather decides to do!) will add to the visceral quality of the experience. We’re excited to see how the natural elements colour the play’s journey from comedy to tragedy, and it means that every performance will be truly unique.

Romeo and Juliet may be a story we all feel we know. Do you feel you have new things to say about the story?
Hannah: I’d always dismissed Romeo and Juliet as being a bit immature and ridiculous – modern audiences can find it hard to believe in a love story that has such passion and happens over such a short space of time because of a few missed messages!

But, rediscovering it, it’s been amazing to see so much more within it: the tragedy of lost youth; the stupidity of pride and hatred; the damage which division and wilful conflict has on different generations; the power dynamics of families… as well as the many different forms of love that are expressed within the script. One of the biggest revelations we made in our early work on the play was also that the first third of the play is essentially one big comedy!

But what came out most was that the danger of Verona feels scarily relevant: a society turning on itself. I’m really interested in exploring not just the love story we think we know, but the humanity of the characters and the kind of world that would lead young people to such desperate acts… because it’s not that different from our own.

“The layers of history and tension between the natural and human worlds provide the perfect landscape for this famous play.” How so?
Hannah: Verona in the script seems to operate on two distinct levels. There is the social construct and customs that come across in the speedy marriage imposed on Juliet, the hierarchies of the society, etcetera – all very man-made. And then there is the emotional undercurrent, the passionate energy, and the connection with nature through the language of characters like the Friar – the natural part, if you like.

It’s the tension between the desire and passion that Romeo and Juliet have versus the order of the expectations on them that creates so much of the drama. Equally with Tybalt: fighting in the streets has been banned, but his pride and emotion gets the better of him, which is the catalyst for so much of what happens in the play.

The pool has this mixture of man-made walls and metal bars, but it’s softened by the garden – the plants, the trees… it’s a world of contradictions.

Are you re-setting your Romeo and Juliet to any particular place and time?
Hannah: When we were doing early work on location, it was striking how the surrounding environment would affect the performance. The scrawled graffiti on the pool, the nearby children’s playground, and the sirens from the M32 – these would all potentially be characters in our production, whether we liked it or not. This has become a real influence in our interpretation – a modern world not unlike our own, but unaffected by the same technology (no helpful text messages to undermine the drama!). A place that is isolated and enclosed, but within a greater world.

We’re also exploring a mix of urban and earthy, not only in design but musically too. As ever with our shows, music plays a crucial role in building the world and Ellie Showering, our music director, describes the musical landscape as a blend of sea shanties and beautiful folk melodies, smashed together with a healthy dose of drumming!

Romeo and Juliet’s famous prologue includes the line ‘the two hours’ traffic of our stage’ – but we’ve cut this even further and our version will hurtle from beginning to end in about 100 minutes, with the action happening in and around the audience. Unlike our last show, The Tempest in St John on the Wall’s Crypt, this is a more traditional abridgement rather than a radical reinterpretation: but audiences will still experience the same cinematic and immersive approach.

Justin: It’s great to be producing a show in an area of Bristol I didn’t have many links with before and have grown to really care about. Everyone we have met in the park and surrounding area has been so enthusiastic about the production and we have felt very supported. Also, if you have never been to Eastville Park before I urge you to visit soon – for me the lake is one of the prettiest bits of Bristol and has a wealth of wildlife living within and around it.





Our immense thanks go to the amazing friends and family who helped bring this production to life and kept it going in performance. Additionally, and specifically, we would like to thank:

Bristol Old Vic Theatre School

Theatre Bristol

Travelling Light Theatre Company

Alan Drake

Alex Davies

Aneurin Palmer-Davies

Kathryn & Tom Raftery

Joe McKenna and his ParkWorks Team

Richard Scantlebury & the Friends of Eastville Park

Tom Paine and the Team Love Team

Andrew Gee

Phoebe Kemp

Savita Wilmott

Mandi Boyd-Mclaughlin

Jonathan Howell

Neil & the team at All Hallows Hall

Teija Ahjokoski

Team Love

Aaron Anthony




Euan Campbell

Ben Crispin

Martha Seigniour

Katey Sobey

Chris Yapp

Darren Seed

Zachary Powell

Jyuddah Jaymes


Hannah LePoidevin - Rehearsals

Joshua Liew - Rehearsals

Imogen Osborne - Production

Georgia Jones - Production

Elise H - Production

Emma Gonzales - Production

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