|Orlando Bloom and Condola Rashad.|
By William Shakespeare
Starring Condola Rashad, Orlando Bloom and Jayne Houdyshell
Directed by David Leveaux
What's It All About?
If you have to ask, let me suggest you go read it, or get the Sparks Notes. In this version, the Capulets are black, the Montagues are white. Romeo (Orlando Bloom of "Pirates of the Caribbean" "Lord of the Rings" fame) makes his entrance on a motorcycle wearing red biker boots. You get the picture. Juliet (Condola Rashad (Ruined, Stick Fly and Trip to Bountiful) is the pure innocent, white clad object of his affection (Fabio Toblini creates the costumes). Their stars are crossed.
What are the Highlights?
Jayne Houdyshell as the nurse is fun. Some fire pillars (set design by Jesse Poleshuck) at the Capulets ball are very cool. Nancy Bannon provides some clever movement to original music by David Van Tieghem (who also designs the sound). Christian Camargo is the standout in this production, as a funny and sharp Mercutio. Chuck Cooper also gives a nice turn as Lord Capulet.
What are the Lowlights?
Let's start with no chemistry between Romeo and Juliet. Rashad has her best moments playing the famous balcony scene with some humor, but overall, her Juliet comes off so innocent and pure that she almost seems like a simpleton. Blame must rest with director David Levaux, because Rashad certainly has shown her ability to find deeper character in her other roles on New York stages. Brent Carver, another talented actor, is grossly miscast as Friar Laurence and most of the humor in that role is lost. Even Houdyshell doesn't seem to take a role, definitely suited for her comedic talents, and run with it. It's all sort of ho-hum and leaves us wondering why this particular version should have been the one to come to Broadway.
Technical irritations: the lighting (design by David Weiner) is problematic throughout, especially for the balcony scene (this is supposed to be night and Juliet isn't supposed to be able to see Romeo, but neither is designed) and Juliet is lost in the shadows at the moment Romeo supposedly spies her and falls in love. Also, Poleshuck uses a large bell that hangs ominously over the set (when it's not being raised or lowered to the stage for no apparent reason) as a constant reminder of -- what? Bells have no significance in Romeo and Juliet. Ask not for whom the bell tolls? The lighting also causes shadows of the rope to distract from the scene in the tomb..At any rate, Bloom almost collided with the thing while making a quick stage-left exit in the dark, but swerved just in time to avoid injury.
Romeo and Juliet is set to run through Jan. 12, 2014 at the Richard Rodgers Theatre226 West 46th St., NYC. Tickets: 800-745-3000.
Christians might also like to know:
-- Sexually suggestive moves