by Chelo Grubb
ATC’s first ever production of Shakespeare’s poetic masterpiece.And and excerpt from our review of the play:
Jealousy. Prejudice. Betrayal. And the chance that true love could actually conquer all. Romeo and Juliet comes to vibrant life through the inventive talents of award-winning director Kirsten Brandt and designer David Lee Cuthbert, whose state-of-the-art scenery, lighting and projections bring new life to the warring world of the Capulets and Montagues. Romeo and Juliet like you’ve never seen before!
“Bold, ambitious, and stirring...Brandt has become a disciplined and inventive theatrical storyteller.” – San Diego Union-Tribune
Brandt's places the tale in the 1960s, a time of cultural revolution in the United States and in Europe as it was rebuilding after WW II and forging an identity less closely associated with the Roman Catholic Church. It seems legitimate enough, and the new context does allow for some touches many of us recognize (and are actually quite fun, like the bright orange Vespa that silently motors across the stage from time to time.)
But the story works here, as it would in many settings, because it is a universal one. Young love rashly crosses boundaries set by parents; the lovers challenge the feuds of families they had no part in creating; the blood-bought and blind loyalty to familial or political or sectarian alliances set us against each other and inevitably cause us great harm. It is always tragic, just as it is in the particular story of "Romeo and Juliet."
Overall, this is a fine production which allows the story to unfold in all its horrors: brutal murders taking the lives of members of both the Montague and Capulet clans; Romeo's avenging the death of his cousin and being banished just after he and Juliet have been married in secret; and the plot hatched by the Friar that goes horribly awry, resulting in the deaths of two teenagers who have vowed to look to the future, refusing to cling to the past.