Monday, February 29, 2016

Play Review: "Romeo and Juliet" at the Synetic Theater

Last week I went to the Synetic Theater to see one of their "wordless Shakespeare" plays, Romeo and Juliet. Because these plays are silent, it helps if you already know the story, and who doesn't know what Romeo and Juliet is all about? I had seen A Midsummer Night's Dream (read that blog post here) and really enjoyed it, so I thought I would give this one a go.

The play started out strangely (as most Synetic productions do), with people dancing on stage with gears, representing the inner workings of a clock. This theme of the "tick tock" of time runs throughout the production, seeming to represent how quickly the two teenagers fell in love with one another (I think they knew each other for a few days?), but also (unbeknownst to them) how little time they had left.
The entire stage looked like the inside of a clock. Image found here.
We have the short argument in the beginning to show the rift between the Capulet and Montague families, and then see Mercutio (played by Philip Fletcher) trying to cheer up lovesick Romeo (then in love with Rosaline, whom we never meet). Mercutio convinces Romeo to go to a masquerade ball held by the Capulet family. The two sneak in, and the party is in full swing. The dance numbers were well-choreographed, and the music was eerie yet lively. All of the actors were great dancers, and the dance scenes were some of my favorites in the entire show.

Image found here.
Of course, it is at the ball where Romeo and Juliet meet. There is an instant connection between them (played by Zana Gankhuyag and Irina Kavsadze, respectively), and they quickly fall in love; they find any opportunity to be together and to touch one another. The two actors are very believable, and you feel like you really are seeing young love blossom on the stage.

Image found here.

"And palm to palm is holy palmers' kiss." Image found here.
Juliet's balcony. Image found here.
But their love must be kept a secret, since there is a feud between their two families. That bad blood manifests itself when Mercutio and Tybalt (played by Ryan Sellers) fight each other. The fight scene is extremely dynamic and very moving, despite the lack of weapons. These two actors really got into it, and I was quite impressed how strong and flexible they were!

Image found here.
Tybalt kills Mercutio, so then Romeo kills Tybalt, but then Romeo is banished. But with the help of Juliet's nurse (played by Kathy Gordon), Romeo is able to sneak into Juliet's bedroom before he has to leave. We see the lovers kissing and dancing, and then a large sheet is pulled onto the stage so that the audience only sees their silhouettes. As the lights move behind the sheet, their shadows become larger and smaller as they touch one another and move together. I thought this was a creative way to show this scene, and it was done very tastefully.

At this point, Juliet is supposed to marry Paris (played by Randy Snight), but she refuses, which angers her father greatly. She runs off to see Friar Laurence, who knows of her relationship with Romeo and had married them in secret. He gives her a potion that will put her to sleep to make her seem dead; she will wake up later, at which point she and Romeo can run away together. But as we all know, the plan doesn't work out as hoped. Her family does think she's dead, but so does Romeo, and when he sees her in the tomb, he drinks a poison and kills himself. She wakes up, sees that Romeo is dead, and she stabs herself with his knife. Not a happy ending. 

But for such a sad story, I think the best part of this production was the physical comedy. There were so many "jokes" in the play (though not spoken), and I was laughing out loud at many different points. Fletcher as Mercutio was very funny, and Gordon as the nurse was hysterical and over-the-top (She was also quite good in Alice in Wonderland; read that blog post here.). I was impressed by all of the actors! Even though this is a less classic version of this play (with the gears and music that sounds like an EKG), if you have an open mind, I definitely recommend checking this play out!

*Click here to learn more about Synetic's teen program.

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