The Second City's Romeo and Juliet Musical | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

The Second City's Romeo and Juliet Musical 

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Ron West and Phil Swann's musical satire of Shakespeare's play, subtitled "The People vs. Friar Laurence, the Man Who Killed Romeo and Juliet," dares to voice all the questions readers and viewers have ever wanted to bring up but were afraid to ask. Why is Romeo so emotional? Why don't we ever see Rosaline, the girl Romeo was utterly obsessed with before Juliet? Why does Mercutio talk so strangely? And what exactly are the Capulets and Montagues fighting about anyway? In West and Swann's version, first produced last year and now being remounted at Chicago Shakespeare, Juliet is self-centered and manipulative, her father is nasty and brutish, and Romeo is so out of control he's virtually bipolar. This show asks the most questions about Friar Laurence, here put on trial for the murders of Romeo, Juliet, and Juliet's fiance. After all, it was his bungling that caused all the problems: he married the two lovers without the permission of their powerful families, then compounded his mistake by helping Juliet fake her own death and failing to let Romeo in on the plan. Bruce Green is a perfect comic representation of the friar--weak, ineffective, and in way over his head. However, none of the authority figures in this comic retelling deserve respect--they've all risen to their levels of incompetence. And that's what you'd expect from a work as in touch with the inner adolescent as this one. Through 8/14: Tue-Sat 7 PM, Sun 2 and 6 PM. Also 10 PM Sat. Chicago Shakespeare Theater, Navy Pier, 800 E. Grand, 312-595-5600 (TTY 312-595-5699). $25-$30.

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