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Adagio Teas
   Features  >  NY Theater Reviews

at the Delacorte Theatre

By Matt Windman

  Lauren Ambrose and Oscar Isaac

One would find it hard to believe that Romeo and Juliet, possibly the most well known play in the English language has not been performed as a Shakespeare in the Park production since 1968, when Martin Sheen played Romeo. The tragedy seems perfectly suited for the outdoor Delacorte Theatre, where Romeo can actually point to "an envious moon."

In Michael Greif's (Rent, Grey Gardens) early modernist production, the stage is dominated by three set pieces: a large moat that covers the cast's ankles, a black iron bridge that diagonally stretches across the moat, and a circular boardwalk surrounding the moat that turns automatically. The set is successfully used to represent a variety of spaces, and allows the cast numerous opportunities to play around with it. Mercutio, for example, can flap around the water in his Queen Mab monologue.

Oscar Isaac, freely swinging his long curly hair, nicely portrays Romeo's romantic idealism, and later grief. However, it is Michael Cristofer as the stern Lord Capulet who unexpectedly steals the scene followed by Christopher Evan Welch, who plays Mercutio like an overexcited, overgrown child.

Lauren Ambrose's Juliet is far too mature and understated to be convincing. Though it is not necessary for an actress playing Juliet to actually be thirteen years old (Ambrose is 29), she must credibly convey the character's tender innocence and consuming need to be with Romeo.

Greif's staging ranges from awkward, as in every fight scene, to gorgeous, particularly in the Balcony Scene. It is a more or less seviceable production, kicking off a Summer of Love at Shakespeare in the Park that will also include A Midsummer Night's Dream and a Hair concert.


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