Patricia Troxel directs, with fights choreographed by Mark Booher, sets by DeAnne Kennedy, costumes by Cheryl Odom, lighting by Tamar Geist and sound by Elisabeth Rebel.
The production stars J.R. Yancher as Romeo, Shae Palic as Juliet, Michael Jenkinson as the Prince of Verona, Quinn Mattfeld as Mercutio, Tony Carter as Tybalt, Elizabeth Stuart as the Nurse, Andrew Philpot as Friar Lawrence, Erik Stein as Lord Capulet and Karin Hendricks as Lady Capulet.
Praise to Troxel for her decision to set this production in the period of the original telling, an Italian short story from the early 1300s, making possible all the color and opulence we have come to associate with the sad tale.
Romeo and Juliet is an early work of Shakespeare, and one of his first great successes. A fictionalized and highly speculative version of the creation of the play was filmed as Shakespeare in Love and was a tremendous hit. An outstanding feature of this play, as with another early effort, Richard II, is the truly remarkable number of great and memorable lines. Shakespeare was seldom again so effortlessly lyrical, witty and profound as he was here.
The two young lovers themselves get only one great speech apiece; the rest are almost profligately distributed among the supporting cast. Tybalt, the Nurse, Benvolio, Lord Capulet, the Prince — all have unforgettable speeches to make, however brief. Even the servants get some good licks in. Mercutio has at least three immortal moments, one of which, when he and his buddies are in the street outside the Capulets calling out for Romeo, calls forth a stunning observation from the love-struck lead, hiding in the garden below Juliet’s window.
Listening to his friend mock his passion, Romeo says: “He jests at scars that never felt a wound.” Mercutio, that is, is making fun of an emotion (love) that he has never felt. Never has a dangling modifier been turned into greater poetry. I get so hung up on this line that my thoughts on it tend to lessen the impact of the next, much more famous one: “But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?”
Mercutio has already delivered his “Queen Mab” monologue several scenes back, and will soon be called on to describe the mortal wound he receives from Tybalt as “not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door/ But ‘tis enough, ‘twill serve.” When you think about it, Romeo and Juliet’s love proves fatal not only to themselves, but to several of their friends and relations as well.
And then, as the Montague boys, wearing masks, are slipping into the party at the Capulets, old man Capulet himself takes them aside and says: “Welcome, gentlemen! I have seen the day/ That I have worn a visor and could tell/ A whispering tale in a fair lady’s ear,/ Such as would please. ‘Tis gone, ‘tis gone, ‘tis gone!”
Romeo and Juliet plays at 7 p.m. April 20-21, April 27, May 4 and 11; at 1:30 p.m. April 22, 25 and 29, May 2, 6, 9 and 13; at 1:30 and 7 p.m. April 28, May 5 and May 12 at the Marian Theater. Tickets are $17.25 to $28. To purchase tickets or for showtimes, click here or call the box office at 805.922.8313.