Reprinted from yesterday's late editions.
Properly presented 'Romeo and Juliet' retains the skill to make you believe that this time Romeo may not kill Tybalt, the Friar Laurence may not mess up his poison plot and that the luckless couple just might achieve their "fortunate future."
Resuming at the monument grounds' Sylvan Theater after a year's lapse, the Summer Shakespeare Festivel Wednesday opened a run of the classic to play through Aug. 7 at 8:30, Mondays expected. This 'Romeo and Juliet' is properly presented.
An excellent critic and University of Maryland drama professor, Roger Meersman has staged and edited the play with welcome awareness of its intense dramatic drive and often neglected accent on youth. He is especially fortunate in his Romeo, Lanny Thomas, and he has made some aware, wise directorial choices.
Omitting any intermission, a practice followed only by the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Meersman accents the pell-mell events of the several days' action. Aware that the apothecary scene in Padua, Laurence's complex intrigues and Romeo's discovery of the "dead" Juliet can seem endless, he both cuts and foreshortens. The usual three hours becomed two hours and 25 minutes, a subtle observance of how to avoid questioning the story's headlong happenstances.
Despite the heat, Marjorie Slaiman's costumes are so ably worn that one thinks not of the player's discomfort in the lighted, lifeless air.
One thinks instead of the impertuosity which brings on the whole tragedy. Shakespeare's point when viewed in this light, Romeo's passion for Rosaline, giving way so quickly to Juliet's attraction, is accented to this purpose. The genuinely credible duel scenes, entered into at first almost diffidently, then with quickening passes, become another point of the impetuousness. And there is deft accent that this Juliet is 13, her mother 26, her nurse 29, and father Capulet but 35.
Thomas is skilled enough to take Meersman's thus preferred ball and run with it. Attractive (a cross between Nureyev and Tyrone Power), agile and well-spoken, his Romeo adds impatience and a trusting kind of faith to what often is considered a stick of a part.
Helena Light builds her Juliet, at first coy, maturing to a perceptive thinking adult. It is a solid concept especially opposite this fine Romeo.