Modern Romeo and Juliet

By Darren Friesen

In the tradition of Valentines Day, the local Pumphouse Theatre sought to extend our romantic notions for a longer period this year with a modern version of William Shakespeare’s classic tragedy, Romeo and Juliet.

We are, once again, introduced to the two most famous characters in romantic poetry and the story of their forbidden love.

In typical fashion this story doth take place in the fare city of Verona. This time, however, the setting and date take on a different appearance. Instead of the classic distinguishable era in which Mr. Shakespeare wrote, we are treated to a reinvention of the past through modern eyes. Adapted by Scott Sharplin, this version of Romeo and Juliet still contains all the elements of love, violence, betrayal, and death, but is set in the present day.

While this play recognizes the traditional poetry and story line of the original, it re-invents many techniques for its modern audiences. If what you seek is the original Romeo and Juliet, this version is not for you. Instead, if you want to see a unique and inventive spin about the feuding Montagues and Capulets, look no further.

Incorporating many new media helps this play take shape. Visuals, lights, and music help this quaint production become realistic in a futuristic sense. Director LuAnne Morrow uses video snippets quite effectively to further distance this production from the eloquent Elizabethan past. As a result of this montage of new and old, the Shakespeare Company adequately propels its audience from the past to the present.

The actors in this production don’t seem to have any difficulty with the colloquial language of old and in contrast welcome very enthusiastically the euphemisms of the new. Moreover, they all seem to handle the live and recorded portions of the play equally well.

Particularly solid performances came from Richard Kenyon (Mercutio) and Brent Weaver (Romeo); both played their characters convincingly and the overall impression is consistency throughout.

The Pumphouse Theatre is presenting this distinctive look at the tragedy of Romeo and Juliet.

Further attributes include, changed scene sequence, live narration, and most importantly, originality. A classic tale is transformed so as to involve the feel of modernity. It plays until Feb. 26, call 289-3680 for more information.


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