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Seattle by David-Edward Hughes

Romeo and Juliet at
Seattle Repertory Theatre

Also see David's recent reviews of Kicking the Hat and The Ark

Shakespeare's warring clans and tragic lovers find new vitality in director Sharon Ott's handsome and well cast Romeo and Juliet. Though the real life war being played out on our living room television sets may be keeping some from seeing live theatre, one hopes that this worthy production finds the audience it deserves.

Ralph Funicello's imposingly handsome scenic design gives us a darker and more foreboding depiction of old Verona than is often the case. The fight choreography by J. Allen Suddeth kicks the show off into high gear immediately, and Ott and her ensemble make sure it never feels like a two and a half hour sit. Cynthia Boorujy's Juliet is a passionate, multi-layered portrayal, and the actress handles the character mood shifts and rapid maturation in a most accomplished manner. She is well paired opposite James Ginty's likable, naturalistic Romeo.

Though she brings a great deal of welcome humor to the proceedings, Laura Kenny as Juliet's Nurse is all the more remarkable for the depth of feeling she lends her character's more somber moments, and Ted D'Arms is a solid and sympathetic Friar Lawrence. Tom Story is amusingly fey and fiery as Mercury, though seeming just a bit too Queer As Folksy at times, while Hans Altweis is satisfyingly brutish as Tybalt. Suzanne Bouchard and Kevin Loomis give their roles as Lord and Lady Capulet more weight and dimension than in many Romeo and Juliet renderings, while Allen Galli proves ever the scene stealer as a bumbling Capulet servant.

David Murin's costumes, though often excellent, often seem to be wandering in from different eras (assassins in Sopranos style suits?), though a particularly gaudy Nurse's dress and lengthy train are an inspired comic visual. Peter Maradudin's lighting design is impeccable throughout.

The use of gunfire in a fight scene being the jarring exception, I feel as with Midsummer Night's Dream and As You Like It, Sharon Ott's Romeo and Juliet keeps the Bard's words accessible and never boring.

Romeo and Juliet at Seattle Repertory Theatre, 155 Mercer St., Seattle Center, through April 20. For further information visit their web-site at www.seattlerep.org.




- David-Edward Hughes



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