ROMEO AND JULIET is probably the most often performed of William Shakespeare’s plays. Just about everyone knows the timeless tale of the “star-crossed lovers” and their warring families. Collingswood Shakespeare Company plays it imaginatively within the limits of a church social hall, with audience seated on either side of the action. The costumes, thankfully, are (presumably) of the period, and most of the actors play two roles. Lane McLeod Jackson is the inventive director.
The first scene depicts realistically the violent street fight that breaks out between servants of the Capulets and Montagues and so angers the Prince of Verona (Cricket Batz) that he issues a warning that any future outbreaks will be punishable by death. Another memorable scene is the one that introduces Romeo and his friends, Benvolio and Mercutio. Alex Ose is an appealingly adolescent Romeo, mooning over his unrequited passion for a girl named Rosaline. Charlie (“Shoes”) Sarkiolglu (that’s the way he’s listed in the program) is a strong Benvolio. As Mercutio, Matthew David Shell IV steals almost
every scene he’s in. Sarkioglu also plays Count Paris, whom the Capulets (Larry Beck and Cricket Batz) want Juliet to marry. They hastily throw a party to introduce Juliet (Kathy Lulofs) to Paris. But Romeo and his friends, having learned that Rosaline will be there, crash the party. As soon as Romeo sees Juliet, Rosaline is forgotten, and the rest is history—or at least drama. Fate, chance and hesitation lead inevitably to the tragic conclusion, as much as we wish it could be otherwise.
Regular patrons of CSC are accustomed to seeing women in male roles, so it is not too surprising that a young woman, Elise D’Avella, plays Tybalt and is even referred to as “she.” D’Avella is a formidable Tybalt, and she knows how to handle that sword. A thought: would Shakespeare’s Romeo have killed a woman? But then she killed his friend, Mercutio. Laurel Musto is excellent as the earthy Nurse and Friar John. Lulofs is a beautiful Juliet, but her voice is so soft that it is difficult to hear her, and she has some of the Bard’s loveliest lines. Batz as the Prince and Lady Capulet and Lisa Longo as Friar Francis (not Laurence?) also need to project more. James Morgan as Lord Montague and Merav Ellis as Gregory, a Capulet servant, admirably round out the cast.
The play ends, as Shakespeare intended, with the reconciliation of the Capulets and the Montagues. A little late.
ROMEO AND JULIET
by William Shakespeare
Directed by Lane McLeod Jackson
May 11-20, 2012
Collingswood Shakespeare Company
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
839 Haddon Avenue
Collingswood, NJ 08108