Past Reviews

Regional Reviews: Washington, D.C.

Romeo and Juliet
Synetic Theater
Review by Susan Berlin | Season Schedule

Also see Susan's review of Road Show


Zana Gankhuyag and Irina Kavsadze
Photo by Johnny Shryock
When Synetic Theater in Arlington, Virginia, first produced its adaptation of Romeo and Juliet in 2009, the production received Helen Hayes Awards for Paata Tsikurishvili's direction and the Canadian Embassy Award for Outstanding Ensemble. Synetic has brought back that production, with changes in the cast, and it's as beautiful and breathtaking as ever in its unspoken distillation of William Shakespeare's play into 80 minutes of constant movement.

Tsikurishvili's philosophy of "wordless Shakespeare" is to express Shakespeare's poetry, metaphors, and characterizations through dazzling physical expression. Since most people know the story of the doomed lovers Romeo (Zana Gankhuyag) and Juliet (Irina Kavsadze), audiences will have no trouble following the progression of scenes and consulting the program synopsis to help them figure out who is who.

On the other hand, people familiar with the Shakespearean text will find some extras, as in the way Mercutio (a flamboyant Philip Fletcher) taunts his enemy Tybalt (a fierce Ryan Sellers) before they duel. Shakespeare's Mercutio annoys Tybalt by calling him "the King of Cats" (a play on the name of a character in an old folktale); Synetic picks up the idea by having Mercutio crouch next to Tybalt and rub, catlike, against his leg. The viewer doesn't have to know the reference, but it's a bonus to those who pick up on it.

Scenic designer Anastasia Simes places the timeless tragedy in the surreal setting of a giant clock; a large pendulum sets the initial pace of the performance and ensemble members serve as cogs in a machine. Time moves inexorably and doesn't care about the people affected as it goes past—after all, the lovers are together only a few days, but manage to live an entire life together.

Combat is the central theme of Irina Tsikurishvili's muscular choreography, whether playful (Romeo's scuffles with Mercutio) or deadly. The young Montagues and Capulets seem feverish with their acrobatic dances and battles, while Juliet's bawdy nurse (Kathy Gordon) fans the flames, and noble Paris (Randy Snight) and well-meaning Friar Laurence (Irakli Kavsadze) do their best to lower the temperature.

Synetic Theater
Romeo and Juliet
February 17th - March 27th
Based on the play by William Shakespeare
Director/Adaptation: Paata Tsikurishvili
Romeo: Zana Gankhuyag
Juliet: Irina Kavsadze
Mercutio: Philip Fletcher
Tybalt: Ryan Sellers
Friar Laurence: Irakli Kavsadze
Nurse: Kathy Gordon
Lord Capulet: Chris Galindo
Lady Capulet: Katherine Frattini
Paris: Randy Snight
Ensemble: Scott Turner, Janine Baumgardner, Eliza Smith
Choreographed by Irina Tsikurishvili
1800 S. Bell St.
Arlington, VA 22202
Ticket Information: 866-811-4111 or www.synetictheater.org


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