An element of simplicity radiates from almost every aspect of director Morgan McCabe's adaptation of "Romeo and Juliet," produced by Gary Shakespeare Co. and staged at 500 S. Lake St. in Miller. The show continues through Sunday.
While the play is a tale as old as time, the Gary Shakespeare Co. successfully recreates a version worth seeing no matter how familiar you may or not may not be with the story.
A tale of love and hate, the quarreling Montague and Capulet families literally fight until the untimely death of their young children. It is through such tragedy that they are able to resolve their issues. In the play program, director McCabe explains: "We can't ignore the parallels between the blood on our streets and the blood on the streets of Verona 400 years ago."
This is a new and refreshing entertainment offering for the area, staged in a building space housing such an assembly of creative talents working hard showcasing efforts that capture audience attention.
A small theater that comfortably seats 50, GSC allows for a close and intimate performance which is quite nice to enjoy a good view and even a little audience-actor interaction. The stage backdrop is designed to resemble the traditional Verona setting, with the colors of the backdrop blending beautifully with the lighting throughout the performance. A few props appear here and there. But this cast isn't bogged down by distracting elements. The setting and performance make up for lack of space that might be needed for a larger, bigger-budget production.
The characters are all dressed in traditional Shakespearean attire, and dialogue is delivered in Early Modern English. The production doesn't really stray away from the norms of the time period. It's the delivery that allows it to stand out.
Both Romeo, played by Curtis Lewis and Juliet, played by Maegan Glass, give serious and passionate performances. While the young pair tackle their lead roles with success, it is their supporting cast that leaves the greatest impression. A wide-ranging group from seasoned actors to children, who might be getting their first taste of the stage, the supporting cast is humorous, interactive, and a strong asset to the play. Mercutio, played by Mario Dongu, Benvolio, portrayed by PJ Culbertson and the Nurse, as played by director McCabe (enjoying dual duties) are just a few of the supporting cast members that stand out in their roles. Their humor and energy levels are contagious and serve well to draw the audience members in, while holding their attention from beginning to end.
There are so many ways to produce William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet," but GSC has created one of the most energetic and entertaining versions I have seen in some time. And while many hours and lots of hard work were certainly invested to make this production happen, they do it so well and make it look easy.
Remaining performances of "Romeo and Juliet" are 7:30 p.m. today and Friday and 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 and available at the door. FYI: (219) 938-4565.