Romeo and Juliet

ensemble theatre · desperate kingdom theatre company · Ages 12+ · United States of America

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June 21, 2018 original article

What I liked

This surprising and clever approach includes some interesting genre swapping of supporting characters. This results in some unexpected twists as a female Mercutio holds her own in the scuffles and brings a welcome sexual tension between herself and Romeo. Having Juliet’s enthusiastic nurse being male adds more humor and dimension to that role, plus makes him more of a father figure. With Friar Laurence also being female in this cast, that role plays more tragically than usual. They are all well-acted and make the most of the device.

What I didn't like

Performed in 90 minutes, the show pushes forward at a dizzying pace.
Smart enough to slow down for most key moments, like the balcony scene and the plotting of Friar Laurence to save the young lovers. However, the trouble with such a fast tempo is that the death scenes – which are plenty – can feel rushed. This robs the piece of some potential dramatic impact. It would have been nice if the tragic side had been a played a bit slower and… well… more tragic. (That being said, the simple bluntness of Romeo’s encounter with Tybalt is truly shocking in its abrupt execution.)

My overall impression

Enthusiastically attacked by a cast that is clearly relishing the more melodramatic and comedic sides of this tale, this version is a welcome interpretation. Their energy makes the classic story feel fresh even if you know exactly what the plot holds.

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