Royal Shakespeare Company: Romeo & Juliet

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The set is incredible. It’s gothic, Spanish. There were african dances. In fact, Juliet is introduced in this really impressive african dance. She can move, and make no mistake she can act. The girl has got talent. She was one of the best performers on stage. Mercutio was very good as well, and sorry that I’m jumping around, but did it bother anybody else that everyone had Scottish accents? I like the Scottish accent fine, but I guess living in New York you don’t hear it that much, so if Tybalt has it, then you’re like, “okay, bad guy is Scottish.” But Mercutio comes out and so is he? And then I thought “oh, maybe they’re making a statement of some kind that I just don’t understand.” Then Romeo comes out and he sounds Scottish but I think he’s Welsh. It was something that reminded me I was an audience member in a play. There were, in fact, several moments that brought me back to my chair, which I’ll come to later.
Our Romeo (sorry, I lost my program and don’t have anyone’s name. I saw the play Thursday 11 August), was an understudy, which is fine, but the role he actually plays is the role of ‘Peter,’ and I am guessing 85% of people reading this will not know there is a Peter in R&J. I was in this play in 2005, and I never heard of this character.
Also, I believe if you’re the star of the play and you are missing a performance, it is the productions duty to let us know why. Not being weird, annoying, or ‘I live with ten cats.’ Not asking you to come out before the house lights go down and make an announcement. Something in the playbill; where it says who will be playing the part of Romeo should also mention the reason… “Got lost in Queens,” or “Tried street meat,” or “still drunk.” Something. let us know. Our girlfriends paid good money for these tickets and fine, the star of the show (who plays Brutus in Julius Caesar??, f*ck man. I would love to see that guy) plays Peter on the off nights, just let me know what happened. Keep me in the know.
What happens than is that Peter comes on (he is the servant to the Nurse), apparently he had a crush on Mercutio, which was funny, and all I’m thinking is ‘man, this guy could be playing Romeo next if that other understudy stubs his toe or something.’ In fact, I was wondering what the guy playing Peter plays on the other night. He had so much swagger. He was a good ‘Peter.’ Probably the best I’ve ever seen, certainly the first I’ve ever noticed.
Romeo seemed a little amazed that he was on stage. A knife dropped a bunch of times. The bible was thrown and went through a gate, and yes, these moments may have been part of all the shows, rehearsed by the director, but it didn’t ring true and certainly kept reminding me that I was watching actors in a play. Even Juliet at the end, she went looking for the knife (or looking for some way to kill herself) I immediately thought ‘oh, god. he dropped the knife again, she can’t kill herself.’ (Later at home I began to think of all the different ways one could kill themselves on stage if one was supposed to die by stabbing but there was no knife. In addition, she already informed us there was no more poison left. Hm. I guess she could just improvise Shakespeare and grabbing something imaginary she found on the ground say… “Ah! Another vial of poison that I overlooked.” Drink that and die). Her scream when she stabbed herself was horrible. Incredible actor. I felt it. It was horrible. It made me never want to get stabbed, ever.
I thought the woman who played the Nurse was excellent. Miss, you are an excellent actor. You walk to your own beat and it’s so clear. It’s clear in your voice, your movement, you are an actor that could make anything work.
I also really enjoyed Montague and Capulet. I’m going to say Capulet more only because he had more stage time but they are both excellent. Capulet did not waste a second. Every word, whether he was flinging the words out of his way, or setting himself up for a slow entry—you’re incredible. I will find out your name soon enough and see you the next time you come to New York. The ‘do what I say’ scene with Juliet was great. It’s fun watching you, but thrilling because I really didn’t know how far you would go in your intimidation.
Montague, the scene where the Duke pronounces banishment on your son, there was a whole moment where you had no dialogue, but I felt your pain, and it was excruciating to see you not know which to deal with first: your wife collapsing on the floor, or pleading to the Duke, or looking at the stars and sky for answers. Very moving. Just want to let you know It did not go unnoticed.
Tybalt was good and the fight scene between Mercutio was certainly the best (though, again, Montague and Capulet, yours was great, too) in the show. I like the slow, drawn out, Frank Zeffirelli, fight scene. Are they playing? Are they joking? Are they mad at each other?
My girlfriend said Mercutio’s death was a little drawn out, I believe her exact words were, “die already” but I liked it. I liked how you kept the joke till the end.
And to the makeup artist. His wound was real. That looked great. Honestly, I felt that in the back row.
I should mention that, I was in the last seat of the house, meaning my back touched your very impressive bubble with stairs.
Anyway, thanks so much for the show. It was certainly the most impressive production of that play I have ever seen. Including mine which had some dinky waterfall, that gurgled more than gushed, and was supposed to “whoosh” out at particular intense moments (not that we found those).

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