How is Fringe's 'Romeo and Juliet' different from the rest? You decide.
By Fiona Zublin
Monday, July 19, 2010
You might not believe that at this stage of the game anyone could do anything new with a Shakespeare play, much less with "Romeo and Juliet." From the ashes of a thousand terrible high-school productions and the raised eyebrows at a thousand "set-in-the-23rd-century" re-imaginings rises "Romeo and Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending," where the audience votes on three crucial plot points in Romeo's life: for example, whether he should pursue Juliet or his old love, Rosaline. Thus each performance has eight possible endings -- no small challenge for an actor trying to memorize eight different sets of lines.
Ann and Shawn Fraistat have written a whip-smart and hilarious new take on a play we all thought we were tired of -- and much of it is in iambic pentameter, which the show's young actors handle with aplomb.
Romeo (James Waters), Benvolio (the rubber-faced Rob Mueller) and Mercutio (Jayme Bell) make up a lovable, fast-talking trio. Bell in particular is so funny that at least one of the votes seemed to reflect the audience's wish that he stick around as long as possible. They're joined by Juliet (Kyra Corradin, playing the manic pixie dream girl to the hilt), the Friar (Branda Lock) and Tybalt/Paris (Matt Sparacino, whose screaming and sword fighting are both impressive). The only lingering disappointment about the play: I wished I could have seen what this group would do with each of the other possible seven endings.
This production's last performances (at Fort Fringe) are all sold out. If it makes you feel better, the un-air-conditioned theater feels like a sauna during the entire performance. But it's worth every minute.