Chicago Theatre Review
Keeping Up With the Capulets
Farewell My Friend: The Romance of Romeo and Juliet – (Re)discover Theatre
When it comes to a play as well known as Romeo and Juliet, the challenge for modern artists is finding a way to make it feel fresh and exciting as it was for Shakespeare’s earliest audiences over 400 years ago. (Re)discover Theatre chose to confront this task from all sides. The play combines the classical text with semi-modern dress, divides the play by splitting the audience into Capulets and Montagues, and allows the viewers to be fully immersed in the action in a promenade-style theatre experience.
(Re)discover Theatre’s attempt to revamp this tale of angst-ridden teen passion falls a bit short of the mark, forcing audiences to try to make sense of the hyperactive choreography (Romeo, played with frenzied energy by Ned Baker, spends one scene literally bouncing off the walls) and the second story that is simultaneously being performed in near-silence. If any audience members chose not to read through the program before the show began, they would be left as confused as I was when two characters, clad all in white, began flitting around our two protagonists as apparent guardian angels. While they do seem to have some spiritual influence over the star-crossed lovers, these two are also weaving their own separate (though similar) story, The Legend of Tristan and Iseult.
Despite being a bit unwieldy at times, the promenade style show is certainly interesting in its approach. It is engaging to see the story unfold while knowing only what your character knows (and to occasionally cross paths with “rival” audience members during your journey). From female friars to pierced, punk leads, Farewell My Friend: The Romance of Romeo and Juliet will keep you on your toes – more as a precaution than anything, since the action sequences may require some dodging…
Reviewed by Dana Balkin
Presented September 18th – October 18th by (Re)discover Theatre Company at Epworth United Methodist Church, 5253 N. Kenmore, Chicago
Tickets are available by calling the box office at 312-884-1733 or by visiting www.rediscovertheatre.com
Additional information about this and other area productions can be found by visiting www.theatreinchicago.com