Max Berry, Contributing Critic - New York City
Rain could not stop this performance of one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays. The crowd gathered, umbrellas raised, to see Shakespeare in the Parking Lot’s production of “Romeo and Juliet”. This very enjoyable production took the classic story and gave it an 80s/90s spin, with costumes from those decades bringing the characters even closer to reality and allowing us to relate to them more than we already could. Often, music through a large boom box stereo played throughout, adding another pleasant layer to this performance.
In the show’s first moments, I was hesitant. There was a little of the “Shakespeare voice” that had found its way into the actors speech. Though, as the show went on, these moments became fewer and fewer. This was, in large part, due to some very entertaining performances. Anwen Darcy as Juliet brought a spunky, modernized energy to the character, that was welcomed in a show that so many are familiar with. Another standout was Alessandro Colla as the tough, bandana wearing Mercutio. This version of the character was a blast to watch, bringing out the “bro” sides of the character even more. Adam Huff as Romeo, seemed to be the one that took the longest to free himself from the dreaded “Shakespeare voice”. Though, when he really surrendered himself to the moment and allowed his voice to do what it wanted to do, the results were very powerful.
Inevitably, when doing Shakespeare, cuts and changes have to be made. And for the most part, the cuts worked in this version. However, there were a few choices that stuck out to me as rather significant. For one, a choice was made to cut almost all of Lord Montague’s scenes. He was pretty much unaccounted for until the end of the play. This seemed fine to me at first, Lord Montague isn’t a particularly significant character in the show and his omission does little damage to the main story. However, his omission from the play until the end, made the reconcile of Montague and Capulet at the end of the play feel less significant.
The sword fight between Mercutio and Tybalt was also adjusted, now being a knife fight. This isn't in itself a bad thing. The fight was well choreographed and entertaining. But rather than being stabbed, Mercutio is merely cut on the leg, this somehow still causing his death. This made the fight feel very anticlimactic and even more so when Tybalt was still stabbed. The impact of the death was felt but the moment itself seemed like it needed higher stakes.
Overall, I enjoyed this production. Despite taking a few moments to warm into the language the actors gave enjoyable performances that helped me forget about the cuts and changes as the show went on. The new era the show was set in was refreshing. All in all, I look forward to more from Shakespeare in the Parking Lot.
“Romeo and Juliet” was directed and designed by Lukas Raphael.
It features: Anwen Darcy, Adam Huff, Alessandro Colla, Una Clancy, Jake Lesh, Kendra Lee Oberhauser, Jack Sochet, Serena Ebony Miller, John Caliendo, Samantha Sutliff.
It was performed with Shakespeare in the Parking Lot (114 Norfolk Street, New York, NY 10002) July 11-27, Thursday-Saturday at 7PM.
For more info go to: http://shakespeareintheparkinglot.com