Romeo and Juliet at the Orange Tree Theatre

In Romeo and Juliet at the Orange Tree Theatre tonight the actors were right there in front of you, doing it, and there was a perfect minimum of stage, prop, costume, make-up, lighting, and sound to get between you and the action. The love scenes between Romeo and Juliet were at the heart of the action, and everything else flowed from them: every word was subordinate to Romeo and Juliet’s bodily attraction. The actors never let the language get between you and the action. Not a bit was indulged: not only was a good portion of poetry cut; but the actors never lingered on their lines, and the variety of accents employed made the language strange too. Not to mince words then, the play demonstrated that passion which makes everything else nothing, and which cannot be constrained, is constrained by words, but expressed fully by bodies.

Romeo and Juliet is the beginning and end of Shakespearean tragedy because in it even Good Friar Lawrence’s God – let alone the patriarchs and princes – cannot get between this love and its fate; whether to bless, curse or save it. What a life-affirming enacting of this play this was, presenting the complete and utter sufficiency of having loved to having lived! It was the best Shakespeare play I’ve seen and I am very pleased and privileged I could take my English class to see it!

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