by Lynn on September 24, 2014

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Young Centre for the Performing Arts

Written by Ben Power (after Shakespeare)
Directed by Michael Shamata
Designed by Shawn Kerwin
Lighting by Michael Walton
Sound by Richard Lam
Composed by Mike Ross
Choreographed by Monica Dottor
Starring: Nancy Palk
Joseph Ziegler

A touching rendering of Romeo and Juliet but with a twist.

The Story. We all know the story of those two teenagers, “star-crossed lovers’ who meet, fall in love and are caught up in their families’ feuds. It ends badly for them. Ben Power’s version uses all of Shakespeare’s words from Romeo and Juliet as it pertains to them, and dialogue from other Shakespeare plays to help better express the emotions etc. The twist here is that Romeo and Juliet don’t die young. They marry and remain so into their older age. Through it all there is there love. Over the years it deepened, matured, and was just as intense as in their teens, now much richer.

But Juliet is ill and Romeo is distraught. He tends to her needs; watches over her and frets. Serious decisions must be made. When both Romeo and Juliet make those decisions the play becomes more gut-wrenching.

The Production. Shawn Kerwin’s set is simple. There is a doorway up centre and a bed stage right. The lighting by Michael Walton is evocative, dreamy and moody. It’s sensitively directed by Michael Shamata, who has a light, spare touch. And he has a keen sense of the intense love Romeo and Juliet have for one another.

Nancy Palk as Juliet is both womanly and girlish. She has a grace that comes of maturity and of confidence. Joseph Ziegler as Romeo is both boyish in his affection for Juliet and has the stoop and slower walk of a man on the far side of youth. Both Palk and Ziegler are two gifted actors who bring years of experience to their roles. It’s an added bonus that they are long married to one another. They know their shorthand to get to the heart of a scene. They imbue their roles with sensuality, love and affection. And there is such intimacy in their body language, their touches and caresses, one is tempted to look away for fear of being thought a voyeur. By the same token, their affection for one another is true, deep and unself-conscious. They dance, hug, hold one another close; spar, trade quips and lay close to each other in that bed, sometimes side by side, sometimes in a tight fitting spoon. Love is in every touch and look.

Comment. I loved this production. I was unsure of the success of the premise—even though I loved another geriatric production of Romeo and Juliet in Barrie, Ont. at the Mady Centre. Still, this production of Ben Power’s play works a treat thanks to two wonderful actors who breathe air and life into every word, and their equally sensitive director who guides them along.

Produced by Soulpepper

Opened: August 19, 2014
Closes: Oct. 1, 2014
Cast: 2; 1 man, 1 woman
Running Time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

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