ADVERTISING AT CURTAINUP
Short Term Listings
BOOKS and CDs
LETTERS TO EDITOR
A CurtainUp Review
The actors play schoolboys and also act multiple roles in Romeo and Juliet. Evan Jonigkeit as Romeo holds the reins very loosely in his hands. His light touch sets up the dramatic developments within Shakespeare's story like a platinum setting shows off a diamond. Conrad Ricamora's modest and plain-spoken Juliet, with no hint of drama queen, stabilizes the whole performance. Newton Buchanan serves up a sassy, black Mrs. Capulet and he also makes an unusually tough Mercutio. Nicholas Park does such a creditable nurse that you could swear he IS an old woman. But despite the actors' lovely handling of their Shakespearean roles, this careful production lacks the heat of a strong connection between the desires of the schoolboys themselves and their acting of the Shakespeare text.
What with the school's repression, this experience should feel a lot more like The Crucible than Shakespeare in Love. The transition from schoolwork recitations to a sudden intense interest in performing Romeo and Juliet is not finessed. As a result the play's sustaining premise is murky and it lacks a sense of danger. Is this due to Peter Reynold's guarded direction or are there opaque areas because Joe Calarco didn't want to show his hand too soon?
An admirable economy of production design is built into the structure. A versatile piece of red fabric serves most prop functions, but some of its uses are more successful than others. Sometimes it's a stretch. For instance, the scarf is not particularly effective in swordplay, especially during the Tybalt-Mercutio duel. If you didn't already know the score, you would have to wonder how it happened that Mercutio is suddenly apparently mortally wounded.
Overall, Calarco's adaptation-play offers a stunningly different context for Shakespeare's rich words and sentiments, and the ending finally resolves questions about the relationship of the boys in the story to the play performance. R & J should ignite fire, but with very fine line readings accompanied by isolated bits of constrained roughhousing, a few pelvic pumps, and a smattering of innuendo, this staging gives off lots of light, but little sizzle and although I have issues with this show, it is well worth seeing. Mauckingbird's production provides a great opportunity to enjoy four able young actors' lucid work with a Shakespearean text.
Try onlineseats.com for great seats to
The Little Mermaid
Shrek The Musical
In the Heights
Playbill 2007-08 Yearbook
Leonard Maltin's 2008 Movie Guide