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Home :: Archive :: 1997 :: February ::
SSE at SAA; Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival's Rom.
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, SHK 8.0191.  Tuesday, 11 February 1997.

(1)     From:   The Shenandoah Shakespeare Express <
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        Date:   Monday, 10 Feb 1997 15:13:19 -0500 (EST)
        Subj:   SSE at the SAA 3/27

(2)     From:   W. L. Godshalk <
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        Date:   Friday, 07 Feb 1997 23:12:26 -0500
        Subj:   Re: Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival's Romeo and Juliet


(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           The Shenandoah Shakespeare Express <
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Date:           Monday, 10 Feb 1997 15:13:19 -0500 (EST)
Subject:        SSE at the SAA 3/27

The Shenandoah Shakespeare Express will perform Love's Labor's Lost at the
Shakespeare Association of America conference in Washington D.C. on March 27.
The performance, co-directed by Ralph Cohen and Tom Berger, will be followed by
a forty-five minute workshop entitled, "Irony, Heckling, and the Play Within
the Play."  Partcipants will compare and discuss the differences between the
performance of the "Nine Worthies" at the end of Love's Labor's Lost and
"Pyramus and Thisbe" at the end of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Please join us
for an afternoon of laughter and exploration.

For additional information, or for a current schedule, please contact the SSE
offices at 540-434-3366, e-mail us at 
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 , or check out our
website at http://www.shakespeare.com/ShenandoahExpress.

(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           W. L. Godshalk <
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Date:           Friday, 07 Feb 1997 23:12:26 -0500
Subject:        Re: Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival's Romeo and Juliet

Last night, February 6, the Fahrenheit Theatre Company, immediately before its
performance of Romeo and Juliet at the Jarson-Kaplan Theater, changed its name
to the Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival.  To confirm the appropriateness of the
change, its production of Romeo and Juliet was an undeniable success.

At the rear of the stage, a dual level structure, with stairs to the second
level on both sides, lent variety to the basic undifferentiated stage. During
the bedroom scenes and the final scene at the tomb, white cloth was lowered to
drape this structure, and during the scenes at Friar Lawrence's cell, a white
cheesecloth curtain with a cross projected on to it was lowered.

The lines of the opening sonnet were distributed among the cast, and the
opening scene was set in a backyard with a clothesline dividing the Capulets
from the Montagues.  This turned into a comic free for all with Lady Capulet
(Nicole Franklin-Kern) being comically doubled up when she's hit with a bag of
wet clothes.

The scene, suggested by costume and golf clubs, quickly changes to the country
club.  The maskers carry golf clubs, and Khris Lewin's Mercutio, with shaved
head, was magnificent.  Purists were not happy when he pulled a condom over his
shaved head and symbolically became a walking phallus. But the business is not
gratuitous.  The director, Warner Crocker, believes that this script has more
references to penises than any other script by Shakespeare, and this show is at
some pains to make those references comically clear to a twentieth century
audience.

Marni Penning was a young, fresh, vivacious (as always) Juliet, and she gave an
excellent performance. Nicholas Rose played a rather subdued and innocent
Romeo.  As he enters the party, he is momentarily separated from the rest of
the party by the lower cheesecloth curtain, which I thought was an interesting
effect, emphasizing his isolation.

Regina Cerimele, Juliet's youthful nurse, drew laugh after laugh, often running
across the stage supporting both breasts with both hands, and Mercutio
comically had her illustrate what the bawdy hand of time was doing with the
prick of noon.

Dan Kenney doubled as both Montague and Friar Lawrence, a decision that demand
a change of character in the final scene. Lady Montague (Toni Rae Brotons)
survives her husband.  In any case, Kenney's Friar was puckish, understated and
comic.  When he delivers his speech on the power of herbs, four of his students
are on stage for the instruction.

Tybalt (William Sweeney) was not at all the uncontrollable mad dog of many
recent productions.  He is easily controlled by Jim Stump's portly, elegant,
and commanding Capulet.  In fact, during the fight scene, Tybalt and Mercutio
duel rather harmlessly and comically with golf clubs.  This is more a boyish
game than a brutal fight.  Only when Romeo tries to break up the fight does
Tybalt draw his sword, and I wondered if he meant to kill Romeo rather than
Mercutio. When Tybalt and Romeo fight, Tybalt is killed more by accident,
falling on Romeo's sword, than by design.  Jenny Jones and Regina Cerimele are
to be commended for their choreographing of the fights.

The first half of this production ends with the death of Mercutio, and after
his death the tone of the production changes.  Before, the production is marked
by bawdy humor and laughter; afterward, things get dark and serious.  As I
watched, I felt strongly the effect of parallel, yet contrasting, scenes, e.g.,
the masking scene set against the aborted wedding feast.

Rich Kelly played a rather limp and fatuous Paris, not a very serious rival to
Romeo, and he is easily dispatched by a trenching shovel in the final scene.
In this production, Romeo did not realize his mistake (i.e., she's not dead)
before he dies, nor did Juliet wake up in time to see him die. The Duke (Chris
Reeder), young, lanky, puzzled, and casually dressed, a country club Duke,
neatly closes the play.

Toni Rae Brotons (Lady Montague, et al.), Lisa Penning (Balthasar, et al.) and
Colby Codding (Sampson, et al.) were busy playing a host of minor characters to
swell the tragic scene.

This is a great deal to like in this production, and I'm going back to see it
again tomorrow afternoon.  I recommend it to anyone who is able to get to
Cincinnati for a performance.  It runs until February 16.

Yours, Bill Godshalk
 

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