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ROMEO AND JULIET DO WOODWARD PARK
Once upon a time there lived a spoiled little girl who lived quite happily with her Capulet family in Verona, Italy. At the rip age of thirteen, her family was eager to marry her off. On the other side of town lived the impulsive Romeo. With his head in the clouds and his face in a book, he was unaware of the tragedy that would befall them both.
The inaugural season of the Woodward Park Shakespeare Festival invites one and all to attend Romeo and Juliet. Director S. Eric Day has set our play during World War II, with a mission of bold and daring interpretation. It is 1943 and the scene opens with the fight between the Montagues and the Capulets. "Do you bite your thumb at me, sir?" The two story wooden stage is filled with tense and dramatic actors on their maiden performance. Eager to put on a great show, the audience is compelled to watch the actors unfold an old but wise story.
Adam Meredith clearly communicated through his performance Romeo's deep capacity for love. It is possible to describe Romeo as lacking the capacity for moderation; love compels him to sneak into the garden of his enemy's daughter, risking death simply to catch a glimpse of her. Anger compels him to kill his wife's cousin in a reckless duel to avenge the death of a friend. Despair compels him to suicide upon hearing of Juliet's death. Meredith expressed Romeo's profound emotions with enthusiastic expression and dramatic stage presence. Romeo's happiness and pain could be felt in the last row.
Dearest Juliet, played by Kimberly Guevara, is of an age that straddles the border between immaturity and maturity. At the play's beginning, however, she seems merely annoying and young. Guevara conveys Juliet's immaturity with a winy, impatient attitude that is only tolerated because of her age. Yet, Juliet's first meeting with Romeo propels her full-force toward adulthood. When she wakes in the tomb to find Romeo dead, she does not kill herself out of feminine weakness, but rather out of an intensity of love, just as Romeo did. Some say, Juliet's suicide actually requires more nerve than Romeo's. While he swallows poison, she stabs herself through the heart with a dagger. Guevara's portrayal of Julietis development from an immature girl into independent lover was evident.
Although the performance was accurate in dialogue, there were a few events that seemed misplaced. Romeo's best friend, Mercutio, is best described as loyal yet this performance had him a lecher. The constant sexual innuendoes were obnoxious and overrated. It was evident that the actors were still trying to reach their characters' full potential. Juliet's uplifted skirt in the ball scene seemed amateur and unfortunate. Expect with each performance the minor kinks to be ironed out.
Truly a joyful event for all, Romeo and Juliet is a play you don't want to miss. Running from August 25 to September 17, 8pm shows are located at the Rotary Amphitheater. Free of cost, thanks to donated space by Fresno Parks and Recreation, there are no excuses not to partake in this event.
For more information, visit woodwardshakespeare.org.