UMKC Theatre’s performance of “Romeo and Juliet,” filled the classic tale of the two “star-crossed lovers”, with a different kind of wit, humor and tragedy.
Directed by Jeanette Dulaney and Steven Miles, it was obvious they, along with the rest of the cast and crew, truly cared about the show.
The set was minimalist, with modern costumes accented with Veronian flare; black jeans with a ruffled blouse or a Hawaiian shirt was an arrangement that was used a couple of times to great effect.
Each actor exaggerated their timeless characters into more than the stereotypical roles.
Frederick Riviera made for the best Mercutio in recent memory, embodying flamboyance and confident demeanor that left the audience gasping for breath with laughter.
Mercutio and his cohorts Romeo, (Alex Ritchie) and Benvolio, (Dayton Hollis) made a perfect trifecta of teenage friends, messing around with booze and the people of Verona like any good 17th century teenager would.
The sound and light design combined with the artistic liberty of the actors, especially during the scene changes made this particular reenactment of Romeo and Juliet truly unique.
In a regular production the scene might fade to black and start up with the next one. But in this show for example, Friar Laurence (Peter Morgan) was first introduced when he came onto stage wheeling his desk and lighting an incense, listening to electronic music and practicing yoga. The audience was confused until the actor pulled out a rosary and wore it like a necklace, indicating the hippie friar had come to the scene.
The show was a perfect mix of the modern versus Shakespearean era. The party scene was full of a vast array of modern inebriants, but the mood was quite dark, exactly how Shakespeare intended.
When Juliet (Haley Ray Solowy), discovered Romeo was banished from Verona, her agony is portrayed through lifelike sobs.
The misogyny and hate women endured in the days of Shakespeare came through when Juliet’s father (Connor Woodson), screamed in her face for about a five-minute long interval when she refused to marry Paris, a truly terrifying scene by any accounts
“Romeo and Juliet” highlights the diversity of Shakespeare with a story of quarrelling families that end in the death of their heirs, young love, and a nice dichotomy of the tragedy comes through as humor found within the absurdity of the situation.
The nurse (Katie Schieferecke), is a notable mention for this duality: she was over-the-top and loud. However, when Juliet has been essentially disowned by her family for refusing to marry Paris, the sadness that the nurse feels for her charge is plainly seen.
This production deserved a standing ovation. It was captivating from beginning to end, the monologues were well portrayed and the relationships between the characters were easily defined by friendship, romance, resentment, sorrow and jealousy.
All-in-all, it was an excellent show that deserves praise. It was obviously well-rehearsed with a cast and crew who love the show immensely. Everyone who sees it will have a special place in their hearts for “Romeo and Juliet” from here on out.