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Romeo & Juliet (2012)

a Drama
CATEGORY : DRAMA
by William Shakespeare

COMPANY : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
VENUE : The New American Shakespeare Tavern [WEBSITE]
ID# 4222

SHOWING : February 03, 2012 - March 08, 2012

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PRODUCTION DESCRIPTION

We invite you to join us for our 13th anniversary of performing this play about young lovers, feuding families and one Friar with good intentions.


CAST & CREW LIST
Director Drew Reeves
Costume Designer Anne Carole Butler
Lighting Designer Harley Gould
Stage Manager Cindy Kearns
Assistant Stage Manager Deborah McGriff
Juliet Kelly Criss
Lord Capulet John Curran
Romeo Matt Felten
Paris Stephen Hanthorn
Mercutio Paul Hester
Lord Montague/ Peter/ Friar John Doug Kaye
Nurse Josie B. Lawson
Balthasar Caleb Lawton
Benvolio Brian Mayberry
Friar Lawrence Jeff McKerley
Tybalt Daniel Parvis
Lady Capulet Mary Saville
Prince Troy Willis
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REVIEWS

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Long Form
by Dedalus
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
3.0
Two houses, both alike in dignity,
At Shakespeare Tavern, where we watch the play,
From year to year to celebrate the day
St. Valentine is honored and obeyed,
Is staged with no ironic purpose hid
(For surely ‘tis an irony that death
Ensues from such a passion young,
And love and death describe an arc that bears
No ‘semblance to the Hallmark platitudes
That seem to foul this day too much for some).


I can’t say for sure whether this year’s February sojourn in Verona is a return to the “long form” R&J that last year was edited to a fast-paced gallop. I can say, though, that this year, the show was a three-hour slog with too many slow patches for comfort and too many less-than-exciting performances from some of the supporting cast.

Like last you, the leads are Matt Felten and Kelly Criss, providing the chemistry expected of acting couples married in real life (as if any time off stage can be described as “real”). And, like last year, they ably convey the characters’ youth, convincing me they were indeed just-teenagers swept away by awakening hormones and new-found lust. Both found opportunities for full-tilt kick-the-floor tantrums, both aroused in their older companions moments of eye-rolling exasperation. Even their first meeting provided an unexpected moment of youthful bravado that surprised and amused with its “this-feels-so-right” playfulness. Their combination of immaturity and to-the-heart passion amplified the emotional impact of their story, and made their tragic circumstance all the more effective. They were, in fact, that best thing about this production.

But, there are too many less-than-wonderful factors burying their story in just-off-book blandness and by-the-numbers recitation. The show opens with a slowly-paced fight in which you can almost see the actors “counting” the chorography. Led by a Benvolio with chronic mush-mouth, the opening scenes were surprisingly lackluster. Even this year’s Mercutio was lifeless (surprising considering how much I usually enjoy Paul Hester’s work) and dull – it wasn’t until he launched into a monochromatic “Queen Mab” speech that I realized he was even Mercutio. There was little bawdy camaraderie amongst the Montague friends, and what was there seemed insincere with a surprising “bored-with-it-all” mood.

Not everyone in the supporting cast was in “phone-it-in” mode – 2011 carryovers Jeff McKerley’s (a concerned and oft-distracted Friar Lawrence), Daniel Parvis (a cocky and volatile Tybalt), and Josie Burgin Lawson (a hovering and garrulous Nurse) were decidedly bright spots. Everyone else may have had moments or two of sparkle or confidence, but overall, came across as a troupe at the end of a long long run who have become bored with their show.

A casting note to make – it may have been a mistake to double the parts of Lord Montague and the dim servant Peter – though Doug Kaye was fine in both roles, he has such a distinctive look (and their scenes are so close together), that it was almost as if we were seeing the same character with a change of clothes.

Anyway, let me close with my usual (heavily-edited this year) Prologue pastiche:

And Mr. Reeves (director of it all)
Has taken us on yet another trek
To fair Verona, where our story lies.
The show’s still here, and will no doubt return,
So if you miss this year’s too-average stroll
Into the passage of this death-mark’d love,
Do not despair or wallow in regret.
It was an “off night” when I made my trip,
But if the troupe engages in their wont,
By next week (or at least next year)
It will be back to its expected form.
And that light taste of rue that holds your heart?
My strained, uncivil words shall hope to mend.


-- Brad Rudy (BK Rudy@aol.com)

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