Romeo and Juliet Redux at the Gladstone
Photos and poster art supplied by production.
There is always something magical that happens when you hear the first words uttered in a Shakespeare play. You are transported into a whole other world, one that requires your thought, attention and full focus. The rhythm of his language, the cadence and the beauty of it is mesmerizing. So I always find it a shame when his plays are cut and reduced to save time in our busy world.
In his current production, director David Whitely says he borrowed inspiration from other sources to create a new Romeo and Juliet — hence the addition of Redux to the title. The set is minimalist (white draping around the theatre and haunting lighting) and definitely works. So does the “live soundscape” which is manipulation of electronic instruments that are not pre-recorded. It is a great great complement to the drama on stage.
There are only four actors to try and convey the complexities of the various characters in the play and the transitions were bumpy so it is not always clear which character is which all the time. It is distracting so beef up on the play before going in and don’t rely on your grade 10 English class memory.
But Romeo and Juliet is such classic theatrical wonder you will still get it all, of course, and feel the agony of the star-crossed lovers as they deal with family loyalty versus love. Death, as you may recall is the ultimate winner in this beautiful tragedy.
Mekdes Teshome makes her debut on the Gladstone stage and she pulls off a beautiful Juliet supported by the rest of the cast and there is a palpable tenderness between her and David daCosta who plays Romeo.
The duelling scenes were particularly fantastic to watch with the gymnastics involved to pull them off without props (with the exception of one dagger).
As a theatre junkie, it is always good and to feel the energy that is created in live theatre, to feel the passion of actors throwing themselves into their work. That is definitely the case in Romeo and Juliet Redux.
It plays at the Gladstone until October 15th.