Romeo and Juliet : relocated into the uprisings of 1848, the cast did not seem comfortable in their roles.

Reviewed by Iris Winston

Categories: Community Theatre

 

Even the rare person who has never seen a production of Romeo and Juliet knows the fate of the young lovers from the outset. In the first place, William Shakespeare tells all in the prologue. Then, the young lovers’ names are frequently used as a metaphor for love and for a tragic ending to a love story.

In addition, it is one of the Bard’s most frequently performed plays. Not surprisingly, directors often try to insert a fresh take, offering a different time, place or even linguistic view. For example, in one of the most memorable versions that I have seen, Romeo stood on the back of a truck in the famous balcony scene, members of the warring families spoke either French or English and the rumbles (rather than token fights) between Montague and Capulet supporters were really intense.

Given the general knowledge of one of Shakespeare’s best known (but not best) plays, director Tom Kobolak has made a carefully reasoned choice in the Kanata Theatre production by placing events in 1848, a year of revolution and uprisings throughout Europe. Unfortunately, that passion is not reflected by many of the cast, who — during the preview performance at least — appeared somewhat uncomfortable in their roles. A number also had issues with Shakespearean language and clarity of speech. Also, hopefully overcome by opening night will be the occasional unscheduled pauses, for instance, while Romeo and Juliet gear up to dance as other characters pop in and out of the arches for some hard-to-interpret stage business.

Jake William Smith delivers a believable Romeo but Megan Carty’s harsh and brassy Juliet does not blend well with his more gentlemanly approach to his role.

The presentations of two other key characters, the nurse (Lorraine McInnis-Osborne) and Friar Lawrence (Lionel King) also strike a jarring note. While McInnis-Osborne does become more motherly in Act II, her giggly tone and sexual innuendo in Act I are discomfiting. King’s unfriarlike, arm-flapping, boisterous version is similarly uncomfortable to watch.

By contrast, the elegant swordplay from Aaron Lajeunesse as Tybalt is a joy to behold. While fight coordinators John Brogan, Jennifer Hurd and Chris McLeod have coached the cast in some basic repetitive (too much of the same) sequences, Lajeunesse appears to be the only one with an affinity for fencing.

Jim Fritz’s many-stepped set is workable (or will be when the cast is completely at ease with traversing the stairs in costume) and, no doubt, such refinements as dimming the lights while Juliet moves to lie on her deathbed in the vault will be in place by opening night. (Maybe, the two veiled corpses might also be allowed to lie down rather than having them sitting straight-backed.)

In general, while it is clear that much effort has gone into this view of the adolescent star-crossed lovers, it does not work well yet.

Romeo and Juliet continues at Kanata Theatre to May 26.

Romeo and Juliet.

A Kanata Theatre production

By William Shakespeare 

Director: Tom Kobolak 

Set and sound: Jim Fritz 

Lighting; Betty Francis and Steven Truelove 

Costumes: Diane Smith 

Cast:

Chorus/Prince of Verona………………………..Gordon Walls 

Mercutio…………………………………………Leslie Cserepy 

Major Paris………………………………………Paul Behncke 

Montague/Apothecary.…………………………..Gerry Thompson 

Lady Montague………………………………….Margaret Sullivan 

Romeo…………………………………………..Jake William Smith 

Benvolio…………………………………………Mark Bujaki 

Capulet…………………………………………..William Horsman 

Lady Capulet……………………………………..Sandra Wickham

Juliet………………………………………………Megan Carty 

Tybalt……………………………………………..Aaron Lajeunesse 

Nurse……………………………………………..Lorraine McInnis-Osborne 

Friar Lawrence……………………………………Lionel King 

Servants and other attendants: Mark Bazerman, Dayna MacDonald, Clara Flockton, Mackenzie Leach, Tracey Nash, Karoline Pagé, Kyra Weichert


Past Reviews