Romeo and Juliet killed it

Martin Vanburen III / Castleton Spartan

The cast of Romeo and Juliet in the party scene when the two leads meet for the first time.

Shakespeare is hard to perform and even harder to understand, but Castleton’s theater department did a good job of making a well-known play understandable, as well as humorous, to watch.

“Romeo and Juliet,” performed Nov. 11-15, was very untraditional with two females playing the romantic leads and with the actors dressed in modern clothes.

The first thing you noticed when you walked into Casella to see the show was the set. It depicted the outside of a house with the famous balcony for Juliet to call to her Romeo from. There is also a section on the left that serves as Juliet’s bedroom. The set looks like it could really be the outside of a building in Verona, Italy, complete with ivy growing up the sides.

Another neat thing about the set was the lighting. In certain scenes that take place at night, strings of white lights strung along the building lit up the stage. It gave a very romantic feeling, which was perfect for this show. The lighting also changed from dramatic spots, to colored lighting to show the mood and also emphasize that action was taking place in another location. The lighting in the tomb, for instance, was a colder blue, while the lighting at the party was a bright red.

Martin Vanburen III / Castleton Spartan

Lexi Fryover and Brittany Rathurn potray a same-sex version of Romeo and Juliet.

Garrett Robin, playing Mercutio, was probably my favorite in the show. He was absolutely hilarious and full of energy. He also had the most sexual character. Many people don’t realize that Shakespeare’s work was so sexually charged, but he wrote half the jokes for the upper echelon of society, and half the jokes for the lower level citizens who would laugh at boner-jokes and womanizing. Robin grabbed his crotch and humped the stage to act out his lines, and the audience loved it.

I performed in the Fall Festival of Shakespeare in high school and the thing I’ve come to learn is that although we aren’t in the same time period as the characters, the themes are universal. Forbidden love is experienced by people in homosexual relationships and heterosexual relationships. Family feuds, falling madly in love, confiding in friends and grieving the loss of loved ones are universal themes.

Last year, I thought the cast of “Macbeth” could have done a better job making the language understandable. Granted, it’s a play fewer people know the plot to, but it was hard to understand what was happening in Macbeth because they didn’t use their bodies and tone of voice to explain the action. In “Romeo and Juliet,” there was hardly a moment they weren’t leaping around the stage to convey the meaning with their bodies as well as their words and this made the show much more understandable and enjoyable.

The way the festival I participated in was set up, each school would do a play, but with a twist when it came to music and costumes like post-apocalyptic or Victorian era. Castleton’s production was this way with the characters in modern clothes with some modern music.

On the topic of the music, I wasn’t actually a huge fan of the way they did it. At times, classic songs were played, including some Michael Jackson, which was fun. What I didn’t like was when

Romeo and Juliet are dead (oops, spoiler alert) and they played instrumental music from a well-known love song. It was just too cliché and that moment needed to be more solemn in my opinion.          

Making Romeo and Juliet a same-sex couple was a decision that actually worked out. Romeo, played by Brittney Rathburn, although dressed like a female was more masculine than Juliet, played by Lexi Fryover. I can’t speak for others, but it didn’t even strike me as odd that they were two women. Because of the forbidden love component and the Capulets wanting Juliet to marry Paris, a man, while she wanted to marry Romeo, it all fit very well. They definitely showed what love is regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

What I found surprising, was how the other characters such as Friar Lawrence were so calm and accepting of the two girls wanting to be together. It was a good example of how it should be, since gay marriage is now legal and people should be acting that nonchalant about it.

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