Verona in Harrisburg
Gamut Theater Presents--Romeo and JulietClick thumbnail to view full-size
Star-Crossed Lovers--Under The Stars
Many of us read, and a few of us may have performed Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo and Juliet. The play has spawned derivatives like West Side Story and inspired popular songs.
So it was interesting, nearly 20 years after reading and watching it in high school, to see the way Harrisburg's Gamut Theater put the play on. They used 1917 New Orleans as the backdrop, which continues the company's tradition of putting a unique spin on the classics. They performed a version of Love's Labor Lost where the costumes and music were out of a 1980's 'brat pack' movie.
The story is familiar to most; amid the feud between the Montagues and the Capulets, the two star-crossed lovers Romeo and Juliet meet, fall in love and end up committing suicide. One possibly unique take was that Romeo was African-American, while Juliet was Caucasian.
There were some things about the play that had never picked up on when it was part of my Freshman English. For one, Shakespeare was a master of double entendre, many of his lines and phrases could have sexual connotations. The first two-thirds of the play are actually more of a romantic comedy. There may even be a desire to end the feud, lest we forget that it is at a ball thrown by the Capulets, that Romeo and some Montagues are invited to, that Romeo and Juliet meet.
But some people cannot, or do not want to see the feud end. Tybalt, Juliet's Cousin and Mercutio, Romeo's cousin, seem to thrive off the feud. It is only after Romeo kills Tybalt in revenge for his killing of Mercutio, that they play spirals into tragedy. Romeo is banished to Mantua and Juliet is forced into a marriage. The two lovers plan a desperate escape, that in the end leads to their mutual end.
But their deaths are not in vain, as the death of Romeo and Juliet seem to be the final blood shed in the feud.
The actors handled the choreography of both the dance moves and the stage combat well and the music matched the time and place perfectly. I only hope that the company can find a sponsor to keep productions like up.