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Living up to its moniker, Bare Theatre presented a no-frills but engaging modern-dress production of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet Feb. 15-18 at Common Ground Theatre in Durham, NC. The set was bare, except for four sometimes cumbersome black platforms mixed and matched to create various locations in Renaissance Verona and Mantua, Italy.
Although many of the young cast members wrestled unsuccessfully with the demanding Shakespearean diction of this immortal love story, Khoa Pham and Tara Pozo made excellent impressions as lovelorn Romeo Montague and dreamy Juliet Capulet, the only children of two prestigious families whose constant feuding frequently upsets the peace of fair Verona. Their passionate performances brought these two impetuous and temperamental lovers fully to life.
Director Jesse R. Gephart set a brisk pace and elicited crisp characterizations from Seth Blum as the fiery Tybalt, a bare-chested Scott Nagel as the wisecracking Mercutio, Tony Hefner as well-meaning but fumbling Friar Laurence, and Rebecca Blum as Romeo’s friend Benvolio.
Kacey Reynolds could not make Juliet’s earthy Nurse the scene-stealing star that it can be, but Matt Schedler and Nancy Rich were suitably spiteful as Lord and Lady Capulet (Juliet’s parents), and Dean Rayburn and Missy Dapper smoothly handled the less flamboyant roles of Lord and Lady Montague (Romeo’s parents). Jeff Buckner was also good as the fed-up Prince Escalus, who warns the Capulets and Montagues to end their very public brawling or risk exile or even death.
Bare Theatre: http://www.baretheatre.org/next.html. Shakespeare Resources (courtesy the University of Virginia): http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/shakespeare/ [inactive 3/10]. Romeo and Juliet (e-text courtesy UVa): http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/ShaRJF.html (1623 First Folio) and http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/toc/modeng/public/MobRome.html (1866 Globe Edition).