Yes, this is an entry of my first theater review for The Montclarion in both the year and spring semester of 2012, AND my senior year, but this particular production got a reaction out of me, so I think I am going to write a "Reflections about..." piece about it as well.
Okay, so here's the background story to this article.
First off, I was never a big fan of William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet.
We all know the story right? Two families in Verona, Italy are fighting and their teenage kids fall in love but then kill themselves. The End.
Okay, I know it's more complex than that, but it's annoying! Both Romeo (16) and Juliet (13) are so lovey dovey and gushy after just meeting each other at a party and planning to marry that night only a few days ago at their young age that it's just so nauseating to me. I know the balcony scene is the most iconic scene in any drama, but to me, it's not that great. It just drags on and is, you guessed it, gushy. The best part about any of the characters in this play is that they are Italian!
Another thing I don't like about it is that it is so overdone to the point where it's bland and medicore. It's the play to which most of us are introduced as children, so therefore, we grow up with it, see many different versions of it, and it's not very exciting after a while. There are also so many parodies of it. If one of the plots on a TV show is that characters are performing a play, most likely that play is Romeo and Juliet, as if there are no other options. Of course, when I was a freshman in high school reading the play for my English class, our teacher told us that freshmen are taught this play at that level because it's the simplest. Well, I guess it is. So I guess that's why it's used for TV? Maybe. I know that Romeo and Juliet is probably Shakespeare's most famous work, but it is just such a common play. It is always there.
But here's the thing. Given these reasons, I was really skeptical when I heard that one of the Peak Performances of Montclair State University for the 2011-2012 season was going to be Romeo and Juliet, and this goes way back to this past summer when I read about this season's performances on the school website. I'm just so used to Montclair presenting the most intricate of theater. You see the stuff I write about on here. When I was a freshman at Montclair, they performed Shakespeare's As You Like It and I appreciated that because you never hear about that play, so it was nice to actually see it performed and it was different! But Romeo and Juliet? That just seems like a step back from what Montclair normally offers. To me, Romeo and Juliet is a high school play, not exactly a college performance featuring college students majoring in the theater field, matching the same caliber as the other theater Montclair offers. When I first saw it on the website, I wasn't even sure if I wanted to see it considering my feelings about it. And I knew I would probably see it because my goal is to see every show presented by the Department of Theatre and Dance, so I was dreading it.
Fortunately, I was wrong about everything. :)
As time went on and I befriended people involved with the production, I grew more and more excited for it and them. Romeo and Juliet, now playing at the L. Howard Fox Theatre until February 19, is now one of my favorite Peak Performances since I began attending MSU. It has that Montclair flair. There's the play, but then there's something magical about it that just engages the audience. It just made me appreciate the play and story more. Granted, Romeo and Juliet themselves are still gushy and I still can't stand that, but that's to be expected so I am willing to look past it and accept it.
Want to know why I like this play so much? One reason is that thankfully they don't include that Romeo and Juliet theme "A Time for Us." I was actually expecting it and wondering if they were going to use it and I am so glad that they don't. It's a good song and piece of music, but there's something about it and how romantic and droll it is that just makes the play that much more depressing. Others are that the whole entire play is one gigantic "Peak Performance and its awkward sexual moments," the music and costumes much resemble our current time period so it is relatable, the acting and delivery of the performers helped me to understand the storyline better, the set is extremely simplistic, using black blocks and a ladder for instance, and at times it is actually pretty funny. For more reasons, check out my review here. Enjoy!
If you can, be sure to see this play before it closes to see what I am talking about! :D
Another reason why I liked this play is that it made me realize things about it that I had never realized before, but I will save those for another post.