Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Commonwealth Shakespeare Company Presents A "Romeo & Juliet" To Die For - Through August 6th

The young star-crossed lovers from fair Verona have brought their tale of woe to Boston Common, compliments of the Commonwealth Shakespeare Company. This sumptuous production of the Bard's iconic tragedy, "Romeo & Juliet," is delighting audiences as CSC continues their 22 year-long tradition of offering free Shakespeare in the Park (Suggested donation of $20/per person helps to support this valued Boston tradition).

Artistic Director, Steve Maler, has delegated the directing chores for this production to Allegra Libonati, and she has justified his faith in her artistic sensibilities by pulling together a creative team and cast that make this chestnut sizzle with life and vitality. The gorgeous set by Julia Noulin-Merat transports us instantly to the palazzos and streets of Verona where the deadly feud between the Capulets and the Montagues sets in motion tragic consequences with which we are all too familiar. Period Costumes are by Neil Fortin. The Lighting Design by Jamie Roderick subtly directs our eyes to the part of the vast set where the most relevant action is taking place. David Remedios' Sound Design enhances the feel of the time and place. Choreography by Peter DiMuro deftly places the cast members where they need to be in the masked ball scene. Important fight sequences have been Directed by Angie Jepson.

The cast is superb, wielding the Elizabethan verse with agility and grace to tell the story that has been beloved for centuries.
  • Gracyn Mix as Juliet is right out of central casting, and is magnificent in this production. Fair of feature and flaxen haired, she exudes the subtle combination of innocence, passion, resolve, defiance, and despair that one would desire to perceive from this young bride cut down just as she is about to fully bloom as a wife and woman. Her simple and resplendent white gown appears to be almost gossamer in its delicacy. Hers is a moving portrayal of one of the great characters in theater history. The chemistry between Juliet and her Romeo are palpable and electric.
  • Her Romeo is also impressive. I had been familiar with the work of John Zdrojeski from his role as John Hinckley in the BU production of "Assassins," and his starring role in "Monster" at Atlantic Stage in New York. So I was expecting a special performance, and was not disappointed. John is taller than many actors who are cast as Romeo, and he uses his stature to advantage. His height made the contrast all the more poignant when he knelt in supplication before Juliet, and before Tybalt (an ominous and imposing Kai Tshikosi) to beg that the swordplay be stopped and a truce be declared between the warring factions.
John Zdrojeski as Romeo
Gracyn Mix as Juliet
Commonwealth Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet"
Boston Common
Through August 6th
Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva
  • The role of Nurse is always crucial in any production of this play, and Ramona Lisa Alexander lives up to expectations in this crucial role. She combines the requisite physical humor with the non-stop verbiage that makes Nurse such a lovable clown. 
  • The always outstanding Boston actors Celeste Oliva as Lady Capulet and Fred Sullivan, Jr. as Lord Capulet are outstanding in these roles, especially in the scene when Juliet refuses to marry Paris (played splendidly by Adam Ewer). Lord Capulet's rant at Juliet earned an exit applause from the appreciative audience.
Celeste Oliva as Lady Capulet
Commonwealth Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet"
Boston Common
Through August 6th
Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva
  • Mercutio departs the stage - and life - early in the story, but Kario Marcel makes a strong impression in the scenes in which he is featured. He lights up the stage with his physical vibrancy and verbal adroitness. His oft repeated mantra, "A plague on both your houses," still echoes in my remembrance.
  • Equiano Mosien is an impassioned Friar Laurence, whose plans and machinations are central to the plot of this tragedy. He is effective, as well, as a one man chorus, introducing the action of the playing and moralizing about its meaning at the end.
  • Although Lord and Lady Montague are less in evidence in this play than are Lord and Lady Capulet, they are portrayed ably by Mark Soucy and Chris Everett.
  • Brandon G. Green makes a strong impression as Romeo's friend, Benvolio.
  • Kaci Hamilton portrayed the Prince.
  • Other cast members are Alex Deroo, Cassie Foote, Tim Hackney, Keith Hale, Jamil Joseph, Stephanie King, Sarah Mass, Andrew Prensky, and Joey Tyler.
Commonwealth Shakespeare's "Romeo & Juliet"
Boston Common
Through August 6th
Photo by Evgenia Eliseeva

The Director made an interesting choice to open the second half of the program following intermission. There was a brief recapitulation of the major action that had occurred before Intermission. It was a helpful reminder for audience members that may have been new to this play and to Shakespeare.

The play can be seen through this Sunday at Boston Common.

Wednesday through Friday at 8:00 PM
Saturday at 3:00 and 8:00 PM
Sunday at 7:00 PM

The show must close after Sunday's performance.

"Parting is such sweet sorrow . . . "



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