Juliet is 70 in the Unexpected Stage Company’s “Romeo and Juliet: Love Knows No Age.” Maturity is upside down in this show: Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers live in a nursing home, where their grown kids issue threats.
“Tell my lord and son I will not marry Paris,” this senior Juliet pleads, giving you an idea of how the lines have been adjusted to suit the new situation. Juliet’s son replies that if she refuses his wishes, “You shall not be housed by me. . . . You can beg, starve and die in the streets!”
It is an unnervingly relevant picture, and if you think it is far-fetched, you haven’t been in an assisted-living facility lately. The concepts of neglect and later-life romance are far more intriguing, though, than the odd and slow-moving show at the Randolph Road Theater (former home to Round House Theatre). Kristen Jepperson’s set is a persuasively bland modern nursing home, but you don’t believe for a second the purportedly deadly family feuds erupting in the lounge among the aged Capulets and Montagues.
Elliott Bales and Claire Schoonover are reasonably compelling together as retirees in the title roles, but director Christopher Goodrich’s ambitious project feels seriously under-rehearsed. Too often the language gets the better of the cast, and the production doesn’t have the consistent discipline that demands you take it seriously.
The three storytellers in Quotidian Theatre Company’s “This Lime Tree Bower,” on the other hand, spin Conor McPherson’s Irish tale with low-key confidence. This 100-minute show — a string of interlocked monologues from three men — nicely captures the wry caper quality of McPherson’s early play.
Director Jack Sbarbori creates a simple fish-and-chip shop set at the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, but the atmosphere really comes from McPherson’s characters. They tell tales that gradually overlap, starting with young Joe (Chris Stinson), who carries on about a friend of his. Brother Frank (David Mavricos) gets mixed up with the local mob, while friend Ray (Michael Avolio) teaches philosophy but always seems to be on a bender.
The lads unwind their long sagas directly to us and to each other: It’s a personable approach. You grow to like Stinson’s naive shine as Joe, Avolio’s low murmur and subversive humor as the snarky academic Ray, and Mavricos’s jumpy energy as Frank. These actors ride the current of McPherson’s thoughtful, funny plot with laid-back ease.
By William Shakespeare. Directed by Christopher Goodrich. Lights, Peter Dowty; sound design, Sean Doyle; costumes, Briana Manente; fight choreographer, Casey Kaleba. About 2