Romeo and Juliet
"How silver-sweet sound lovers' tongues by night,
Like softest music to attending ears!"
I attended the Chicago Shakespeare Theater production of Romeo and Juliet this afternoon. It was a production that I would characterize as approaching Shakespeare from the outside in rather than from the inside out. By this I mean that the trappings (set, music, choreography) of the play controled the drama rather than the drama originating in the words, Shakespeare's poetry. And in Romeo and Juliet, laced with sonnets, the poetry is even more important than it is in other of his plays. I found the result unsatisfying and it was compounded by lackluster acting from the lead characters. For example, the famous balcony scene had Romeo performing acrobatics climbing the lattice work while his recitation of the familiar lines somehow seemed less interesting in comparison. Juliet's silly teenage idiosyncracies made her appear less attractive than the play suggests. Some of the supporting characters were well played, particularly Ora Jones as the Nurse and Ariel Shafir as Mercutio. The special effects were exciting, but did not offset the failure to bring the exciting poetry of Shakespeare to the audience with consistent portrayals of the main characters. Shakespeare's masterpiece of young love deserves better.