Shakespeare Theatre Company’s “Romeo & Juliet” is a perfectly acceptable production, with the usual beautiful sets and exquisite costumes one expects from them. But it’s a workhorse production, with nothing new to say or add to the performance history. That in itself isn’t really a problem – traditional mountings of plays allow one to reconnect on a basic level with text and character, and this would be a good introductory piece for say, a high school audience to view. But I expect more from STC.
I expected even more than usual, given the press materials’ quoting of director David Muse’s hope that an all-male cast would give a “fresh and dangerous and transgressive” approach to the production. But in this era, just doing an all-male cast is not going to give you transgressive. It isn’t even innovative anymore – companies such as the Globe and Propeller have been doing it for the last decade - a fact pointed out without irony by STC’s own materials (I kept waiting for the punchline in that article – “and now, DC finally catches on to the trend!”). There has to be something more to set it apart. So why do an all-male cast and leave almost everything else derivative and traditional? Oddly, this was the least testosterone-fueled production I’ve ever seen, the opening brawls lacking any sense of the explosive danger of the feud between Capulets and Montagues.
Matters aren’t helped by a Romeo and Juliet with absolutely no chemistry together. Continue reading