ROMEO AND JULIET at Collingswood Shakespeare Company
ROMEO AND JULIET is probably the most often performed of William Shakespeare’s plays. Just about everyone knows the timeless tale of the “star-crossed lovers” and their warring families. Collingswood Shakespeare Company plays it imaginatively within the limits of a church social hall, with audience seated on either side of the action. The costumes, thankfully, are (presumably) of the period, and most of the actors play two roles. All are excellent, although some need to be a bit louder.
The first scene depicts realistically the violent street fight that breaks out between servants of the Capulets and Montagues and so angers the Prince of Verona that he issues a warning that any future outbreaks will be punishable by death. Another memorable scene is the one that introduces Romeo and his friends, Benvolio and Mercutio. The actor who portrays Benvolio also plays Count Paris, whom the Capulets want Juliet to marry. They hastily throw a party to introduce Juliet to Paris. But Romeo and his friends, having learned that Rosaline will be there, crash the party. As soon as Romeo sees Juliet, Rosaline is forgotten, and the rest is history—or at least drama. Fate, chance and hesitation lead inevitably to the tragic conclusion, as much as we wish it could be otherwise.
The play ends, as Shakespeare intended, with the reconciliation of the Capulets and the Montagues. A little late.