Romeo and Juliet Ride the Rails in High Park for the Last Time - The Intrepid

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Romeo and Juliet Ride the Rails in High Park for the Last Time

Romeo and Juliet High Park Dream
Last night, I went to see Canadian Stage's second last production of Romeo and Juliet, which has been running all summer long as part of TD's Dream in High Park series.

The cast is superb. I always find Romeo to be a bit of a whiny creep, but at least in this production he's offset by an equally neurotic Juliet. The two lovers are both overshadowed though by their counterparts, Mercutio and the Nurse, who tend to steal the show whenever they're on stage.

The only let down is the setting. From what I understand, the players are part of a travelling Romeo and Juliet production that's stuck in a Verona train station (how ironic). When tensions between the actors flare after yet another series of train delays, the station manager suggests that they kill time with a quick performance. I can only assume that we, the audience, are also trapped in this train station, watching this Improv Everywhere-style show.

Here's a thought. Instead of having a play-within-a-play in a modern train station, which robs the production of its emotional impact and adds absolutely nothing, why not set it in sixteenth century Verona? For further commentary on this problem read The Onion article entitled "Unconventional Director Sets Shakespeare Play In Time, Place Shakespeare Intended."

Perhaps the best part of the production is the surprise ending. Spoiler alert! At the end of the play, after Romeo and Juliet have both kicked the bucket, the entire cast breaks into a Slumdog Millionaire-style Bollywood musical number. The dance sequence doesn't really fit, but it's a nice touch that helps to lighten the mood after the play's gloomy end.

Photo by Chris Gallow.