Broadcast Review Text of: ROMEO AND JULIET

by Lynn on July 20, 2014

in The Passionate Playgoer

The following review was broadcast on Friday, July 18, 2014, on CIUT FRIDAY MORNING. 89.5 fm. ROMEO AND JULIET at Fairie Lake Park, in Newmarket. Various dates on tour until August 3.

The Guest Host was Phil Taylor.


Good Friday morning. Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer has just returned from her summer vacation in England, and we’ll ask her about that a bit later. But first it’s theatre talk time so Lynn, welcome back and what do you have for us this week?


Morning Phil.

I got back on Wednesday night so I will only report on one show, ROMEO AND JULIET that I saw last night in Fairie Lake Park, Newmarket as part of the tour of Humber River Shakespeare.

I love the company. They have been doing productions of Shakespeare’s plays for seven years, and they are always spunky, inventive and seat of the pants fearless. They play communities along the Humber River


I think we all know the story of ROMEO AND JULIET. How does it play in the outdoors?


I love watching Shakespeare outside with these audiences who sit on the grass or the rocks that form an amphitheatre at Fairie Lake Park in this instance. Beautiful trees swaying and swishing in the breeze. People walking their dogs. And two young girls—sisters—one about 5, the other 8—watching Shakespeare not talking or moving, for the most part. Planes over head, and you don’t notice any distraction because the story and the production grab the audience.

So I think ROMEO AND JULIET is a group effort that does justice to the basic, simple story.


Are there any surprises in the production?


All sorts of interesting touches and oddnesses that add to the experience. The setting is idyllic. The playing area is a small area in the centre that uses boxes and a few platforms as risers.
But director Kevin Hammond uses a large part of the park to get his actors into and out of scenes smoothly and efficiently. It’s usual to see characters in the next scene, moving into visible position during the previous scene.

The play is heavily cut by the Kevin Hammond. Some poetry might be lost but the story goes like the wind because Hammond knows his audiences. Couples, families with young children, sometimes teens come en mass. The basics of the story are kept with some twists.
Hammond, always has interesting twists to his productions.

For example, in the text the character of Chorus gives the pre-amble of the story—how the two households of the Montague’s and the Capulets have been fighting so long they can’t remember the cause of the original grudge. And after that it doesn’t matter.
Hammond has his Romeo and Juliet give those speeches. Interesting idea.

There are about 20 characters, all played by a small cast of nine actors who play two and three characters. And I love that Hammond can be wickedly impish and witty.


How so?


Romeo crashes a party at Juliet’s house and there are all sorts of goings on. Lots of people are dancing. What they are dancing to is music from the Prokofiev ballet, in particular the Departure of the Guests (sometimes called The Pillow Dance.) Only in this production it’s an up tempo pop number and the dancing is energetic. And of course, the guests aren’t leaving. I loved all that ironic stuff.

And it’s in this scene that Romeo first spies Juliet. This is always tricky. How do you keep the way clear for Romeo to see Juliet and be smitten? And also important that the audience sees it too. Again, Hammond pulls it off clearly.


Since the playing is outside and perhaps not ideal to do theatre, do you cut them slack?


Sure. Of the company of nine, four actors are not Equity and that includes our Juliet. It’s doubtful many of them have ever had experience with Shakespeare except those actors who have been with the company for previous productions. But they all give their all.

As Juliet, Eunjung Nam is quite girlish—I can believe her as 14. She is feisty and innocent at the same time. As Romeo, Kelly Penner is boyish, sweet, and courtly. You can see why Juliet falls for him and he for her. As Capulet, Steve Coombes, combines a sense of seriousness and stentorian splendour. And he’s dangerous.

I think this production of ROMEO AND JULIET is a terrific way of breaking in to seeing Shakespeare anywhere.


Thanks Lynn. That’s Lynn Slotkin, our theatre critic and passionate playgoer. You can read Lynn’s blog at Twitter @slotkinletter.

ROMEO AND JULIET plays various venues until Aug. 3. For more info on the schedule please go to

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