ROMEO AND JULIET is one of Shakespeare’s most influential pieces and is now being performed at the Richard Rodgers Theatre on Broadway. If you are one of the few people who have never read the script, do so now. For those of you who have, you know the plot so I will skip over the plot summary aspect and dig right into the production itself.
When learning that Romeo would be white and Juliet would be black, I never imagined that the show would be set up so starkly pinning one race against the other. It seemed we were lost in the time warp due to multiple accents, dialect and clothing choices. Romeo and his friends wore jeans, t-shirts and hoodies. Juliet’s mother wore long dresses and during the ball, she looked as if she was straight out of AIDA. Are we back in Nubia or where is this taking place? Is this present day or not? Confusion reigned.
The scenic design by Jesse Poleshuck was quite a show; fire on stage, a looming mural which pulled apart and a long wooden, balcony were the main set pieces. The sand that lined the edges of the stage was an interesting touch. Again, not sure where this piece was supposed to be taking place.
As for the cast, every woman in the audience was overjoyed to see Orlando Bloom play Romeo. Watching him ride on stage on a motorcycle, take his shirt off and kiss Juliet for an awkward amount of time really won them over, not me. His acting was to the point and fine but are we to believe a 36 year old man is a teenager? Riddle me that. Condola Rashad who played Juliet acted young and playful. She seemed to understand her character and helped carry the show which much like the sand on stage, was slipping through the cracks. My favorite actor was Christian Camargo who played Mercutio. He knew how to deliver his lines (Shakespeare is not easy) and was in his element. I could watch him for days. Juliet’s father played by Chuck Cooper seemed to be in the wrong play. His lines were spewed out way too fast and some things he said seemed to try to be ghetto. It came off racist and uncomfortable.
This show has so much potential and yet, it was a flop. If you love Orlando Bloom it may be worth it to see him on stage. However, if you are looking for an incredible Shakespearian production, sorry to say, you will not find it here. For more information on the show: http://romeoandjulietbroadway.com/