Much like the potion the Friar makes Juliet in Shakespeare’s classic, turning the world’s greatest love story (even though everyone dies), putting it in a barn on Cape Cod, and adding unresolved sexual tension is a potent mixture. Too much of any one ingredient could cause a calamity in the storytelling (like Juliet potentially waking up for her second wedding in as many days). Luckily, ROMEO, ROMEO, AND JULIET anew comedy from The Roustabouts Theatre co gets the balance just right for a night of Shakespeare inspired hilarity.
The show opens with Simon (Brian Mackey) the director of a summer stock production informing Tracy (Michael Silberblatt) that their former Juliet has run off to the glamorous world of off-Broadway. So the new Juliet, Nancy (Michelle Marie Trester) is arriving shortly and they have seven days to rehearse before the show opens.
Tracy is struggling to remember what, if anything happened between him and Simon at the last cast party. Simon is trying to ignore Tracy’s advances, get the actors to focus, and bring this show to life on such short notice. Nancy is processing being outside of Utah for the first time, having never performed Shakespeare before, and trying really hard to not pronounce Montague as monta-goo.
There’s a lot of comedic fodder is what I’m saying.
You don’t need more than a passing knowledge of ROMEO AND JULIET for this play. As they rehearse key scenes emotions and insights are unearthed, love interests are pursued, and fates are realized – for the actors and director as much as the characters of Romeo and Juliet.
With three people in the cast all have to be top notch to make a bad rehearsal seem entertaining and these actors more than succeed.
Trester is engaging as the newcomer Nancy. Her wide eyed enthusiasm, habit of babbling nervously about her love for Sprite, and her struggle she comes to terms with some sudden personal realizations about herself and her love life.
Silberblatt is a first rate Romeo, both when performing the lines to Nancy, and when he is Tracy pursuing Simon. As Romeo it’s easy to see why Juliet falls for him, and when he recites sonnets to Simon it’s a bit hard to remember why he’s being held off at arm’s length. He switches from romance to exasperation seamlessly as he struggles with Nancy’s antics and Simon’s evasion.
Mackey is hilarious as the increasingly stressed out director, who is struggling to avoid the temptation that is Tracy. He steals the first act just before intermission and his splendid performance continues through to the end when he is able to impart words of wisdom that allows everyone to leave on good terms.
Directed by Kim Strassburger this show finds the rhythm to keep the characters vibrating at the right frequency to be foils to one another. It could very easily turn so histrionic it loses sentiment, but it never does.
Written by Ruff Yeager, this show is smart and funny. He uses the text of the tragedy wisely while playing up the summer stock shenanigans, and close proximities of the theatre to great impact.
ROMEO AND JULIET may be heartbreaking, but the real tragedy is if you miss this delightfully funny show and the enormously talented cast of ROMEO, ROMEO, AND JULIET.