If you went to high school in an English-speaking country, chances are you were forced to read “Romeo and Juliet” at one point or another. If you haven’t read it, you’re at least somewhat familiar with one of the many great stage and screen adaptations of the play. Regardless of your previous exposure to Shakespeare’s work, you should make it to the Downspace this weekend to see PW’s production of “Romeo and Juliet.”
With a strong ensemble cast, and some interesting interpretations and directorial choices (for instance, turning ballroom scene into a pseudo-Renaissance rave with some comically raunchy dancing, a pretty homoerotic rendition of Mercutio and Benvolio’s relationship, and a mix of modern formal and punk costuming), “Romeo and Juliet” makes the difficult Shakespearean language come together in a relatable way and successfully tells the story of two young people in love under unfortunate circumstances. The earnestness, energy, and relatability of the performances, injected with humor at the right moments, makes the play both accessible and enjoyable.
The show begins with plumes of smoke covering the stage as Mercutio (Kerry Hall ’13) steps out and delivers the opening lines of the play’s prologue. The rest of the cast gradually joins him on stage, each beginning the prologue themselves as they enter. Their voices come together to form an entrancing, loud mesh that propels the play into action.