A very good production of “Romeo and Juliet” is playing at the St. Lawrence Shakespeare Festival in Prescott. Director Janet Irwin has set the play in the 1950s, perhaps the last decade in which marriage decisions were primarily made by parents, often in conflict with teen-agers’ raging hormones. This decision allows designer Alex Amini to costume the actors so they can move easily through the athletic staging. By the way, the various knife fights staged by Jonathan Purvis are remarkably effective. Her costumes for the Capulets, particularly Juliet, are especially good.
The simple set of two sheer white panels with a circular sheer panel center designed by Julie Bourbonnais is very atmospheric. The transformation to the tomb and the gradual lighting of the single paper lantern work very well. The a cappella dirges by Melissa Morris are good, but Lady Capulet’s snippet of “Blue Moon” seems out of place.
The cast is generally good, with just a couple of uneven performances. Jonathan Gould is excellent as the Prince and also in his subtle guitar work. Unfortunately Kathleen Veinotte gives an inconsistent performance as the Nurse, characterized off and on by a flat-footed caricature of a walk. As Paris, Benjamin Sutherland gives us a realistically believable death scene. (Continue reading » )