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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA performs gothic rendition

    Shakespeare’s “”Romeo and Juliet”” has been recreated on the stage for centuries, and I’ve seen quite a few renditions of it. I’ve seen settings that range from traditional Elizabethan style to a small city in South America. I’ve also seen the 1968 version of “”Romeo and Juliet”” where the men wore tights and proudly displayed their bulges, and the 1996 classic that starred Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio in the crazy modern city of Verona Beach, Calif. Yet I still found myself in utter shock at the direction that Arizona Repertory Theatre and the UA School of Theatre Arts took their production of “”Romeo and Juliet.””

    This play boldly shapes Shakespeare’s classic poetry into an exciting story during an industrial and often dark time period. The entire play takes a gothic and foreboding turn, with the set consisting of large wrought-iron awnings that give the stage a cold, tough appearance. Kinsmen of both houses wear

    “”Romeo and Juliet””

    When: Play runs until March 25
    Who: Stefanie Brown as Juliet and Tim McKiernan as Romeo

    tight pants with wallet chains hanging from them, heavy boots and most have drastic haircuts. Tybalt, for example, has a mohawk.

    Sometimes the kinsmen wear miner hard-hats, suggesting a dank, rugged and dirty setting. The costumes, starkly dark and imaginative, align with the gloomy theme. At one point Juliet wears black leather pants and stiletto boots under a pink robe that is the brightest article of clothing that ever appears on stage – aside from the wedding dress Juliet never wears.

    The narrator, whose most famous monologue ends with the passage “”For never was there a tale of more woe than that of Juliet and her Romeo,”” is played by a white circular projection screen where a grainy film of an intense close-up of a man’s mouth performs the monologue. It is eerily like a David Lynch film, and the rest of the characters bow down to this ominous figure, as he sometimes plays the prince.

    The music was always dramatic, with heavy and serious beats that almost made me shiver. At the party of the Capulets, Romeo and Juliet remarkably dance to the slow and sensual “”Angel”” by Massive Attack, a song that inevitably sets the mood of tragedy. The audience can only stand back in awe, knowing what calamities will befall the young lovers.

    While the setting is never really explained (Is it a post-apocalyptic town or a dirty industrial city of the past?), the acting and performances are extraordinary. The sexual undertones of the play are scattered throughout, with gestures and accentuations that get a lot of laughs from the audience especially those performed by the nurse, masterfully portrayed by Karole Spangler.

    This production of “”Romeo and Juliet”” is odd, dark, remarkably acted and completely enchanting to watch. It exemplifies the UA theatre department’s talent by performing an ageless classic in a completely unique and clever new direction.

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