Romeo and Juliet | Performing Arts Review | Chicago Reader

Romeo and Juliet 

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Romeo and Juliet, Yugen Theatre, at Footsteps Theatre Company. Y'see, this teenage boy and his buddies crash this yuppie party, where he falls for the richo's daughter, but her sister gets into a fight with his homey, violence breaks out, and he's forced to flee the cops. Yes, it's Romeo and Juliet, once again draped in high concept.

Sometimes the metaphor works: casting the rangy Jean Adamak as Tybalt makes for some interesting Eros-as-aggression dynamics as she and Mercutio square off in another of Sam Alden's superbly choreographed duels. But Michele DiMaso's Juliet, who emotes with furious adolescent passion from a bedroom decorated with stuffed animals and Judy Blume novels, loses more credibility than she gains by adhering to modern notions of youthful behavior (ditto Stephen Davis's Ken-doll Romeo). And why does Lord Capulet have to sexually abuse his rebellious daughter, or the gender-integrated Montague gang make so many cock jokes?

None of the gimmicks in this Yugen Theatre production would be distracting if director David White had thought his analogies through to their logical conclusions, or if his actors had worked as hard on interpreting the text and building coherent personalities as they have on physical spectacle. As it is, this resembles nothing so much as a series of music videos with far too little music.

--Mary Shen Barnidge


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