Think you are familiar with the story of Shakespeare’s classic star crossed lovers? Shakespeare’s R & J by Joe Calarco at Fabrefaction Theatre Conservatory might have you looking at the tragedy from a different point of view.
Set in a male only New England Catholic school, the play follows four stressed-out students as they find the text of Romeo and Juliet. For them, acting out the text becomes a vehicle to release inner emotions and escape the demands of their studies. In a unique twist, the play alludes to the all-male company of the Globe Theatre. The four young men tell the tale with such a passion that it’s difficult not to find the production moving.
Directed by Brian Clowdus, the action on stage moves at a quick pace and truncates the story to the essentials scenes. Tightly choreographed, the actors storm across stage building up to a powerful release of emotion, whether it is a fight or an emotion-filled suicide.
The talented cast captivates, and each actor in the quartet shows versatility, shifting through various characters without skipping a beat. Together, they are a tour-de-force, playing off each one’s strengths.
Kyle Brumley shines, showing subtle facial expressions and mannerisms that tell more about the character than anything he could say. His Juliet is wonderful. Likewise, Brian Hatch’s Romeo builds off of the quiet characteristics he gives him.
Chase Steven Anderson and Justin Walker complete the cast. Each one plays a variety of roles well and humorously when necessary. Walker’s Lady Capulet stands out as does Anderson’s nurse. They balance out the intense emotion well as these characters, but also provide their own rage at times, especially in a powerful bullying scene between the students, which also includes Brumley and Hatch (who make it one of the best moments in the production).
A powerful production, Shakespeare’s R&J plays at Fabrefaction Theatre Conservatory though March 2, 2014. For tickets and more information, please visit the theater’s website. The show’s runtime is a little over two hours with an intermission. Please note that the show may be inappropriate for children under 13.
– Kenny Norton