Solène Weinachter and Ben Duke on Juliet & Romeo
On Saturday 9th November 2019 Lost Dog’s Artistic Director Ben Duke will perform Romeo for the last time. To mark the moment we asked Ben and Solène to look back on the last 18 months of bickering and brawling in venues across the UK.
From January 2020 the role of Romeo will be played by Kip Johnson.
BEN on Romeo
What are your final thoughts about Romeo now that you’re hanging up his cloak?
I’m surprised and delighted by how well he’s gone down. Although I think that has a huge amount to do with Juliet. If it was just him onstage it would be insufferable.
What’s it been like inhabiting the character of Romeo over the last (nearly) two years?
Like most characters I create for myself they are not so different from my own character but in a different situation. So inhabiting Romeo has allowed me to spend more time with those parts of myself I find quite annoying. I’m hoping that might be beneficial in some way.
Have you and Solene changed the show over the 80+ shows you’ve performed?
Yes, the piece has been through many changes – some incremental and some quite drastic. I think the characters have stayed the same though. It’s interesting to re-live a complicated moment in a relationship over and over again. It reminds me that in life we must repeat the same mistakes over and over before we can stop making them.
Tell us a bit about audience reactions?
Audience reactions have been very positive. I think when people recognise themselves or their relationship in what they see onstage then it has a more profound effect on them. In Blackpool we asked if they could hear us and someone in the audience said no and we then got into quite a lengthy discussion about acoustics and they suggested we get some microphones, which we briefly considered before realising that we had managed to hear each other perfectly during this discussion so we would just speak loudly – that added a good few minutes to the show.
What would you say to Romeo now if you met him at a party?
It’s ok to be a disappointment to your teenage self. Here drink this…
SOLÈNE on Juliet
What is it about Juliet that appeals to you?
She’s so committed to the task she has set for Romeo and herself and I find that very inspiring. She is secretly quite excited about the therapy idea and for me it’s actually compelling and amusing to witness her lack of filters!
Has Juliet changed since you started performing the show?
I think she has. She has found more subtleties second by second during the 75 minutes: one second she can be soft and naïve, the next second she can be bossy and annoyed. Giving her this life onstage over time has helped me discover different sides to her and this will continue as we keep performing the piece. Each show has a different dominant emotion that steers her journey.
As a performer how do you combine so many disciplines in one show?
It’s a juggling act! I find working with text is a lot like working with movement; it’s about shaping energy and intention. I come from a dance background so I understand how to work with movement and I apply similar methodologies to working with text. And song!
Does the audience reaction alter the atmosphere onstage?
Definitely. The show is different every night as the audience is the third protagonist of the story. We have a dynamic relationship with the audience not only by listening to their reactions but also by working from the ‘mood of the room’. The rhythm and the chemistry of the show change accordingly.
What would you say to Juliet if you met her at a party?
I’d invite her for a weekend in the south of France with some women friends of mine involving wild swimming and some serious party dancing. She needs a break!