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‘Romeo and Juliet’: A new take on an established classic

Romeo (Addison Lambert), Juliet (Victoria Rusniak) and Friar Laurence (Aaron Adams) perform a scene from “Romeo and Juliet.” Photo via Addison Lambert

“Romeo and Juliet” is a tale as old as time. It is a story with references that have permeated throughout pop culture for years. Bradley theatre produced its spin on the play in the Hartmann Center for Performing Arts on stage between Nov. 2-11.

Directed by Scott Kanoff, Chair of the Department of Theatre Arts, Bradley’s production is a modern twist on the story of two star-crossed lovers, kept apart by their feuding families.

Before watching, there was little hope for anything more than a snoozy rendition of a play that has seen its fair share of remakes since its writing in 1597.

Ultimately, this production of “Romeo and Juliet” embraces a modern twist and doesn’t disappoint. The costumes make the show visually interesting and are a certain improvement from the stifled knickers and blouses that have been staples of Shakespearian costume design.

The set is simple, but has interesting features that add to the performance’s dynamism. Romeo, played by junior theatre arts major Addison Lambert, scales the footholds in the side of the castle set piece. Characters run around the audience’s flanks to enter and leave the stage in a dramatic fashion.

All together, the design choices are full of personality and effectively capture the show’s overall vibe.

Each character’s performance is well done. The nurse, played by junior theatre arts performance major Sabrina Soto, is a standout. Soto delivers an incredible range of emotions and hilarious quips with a sincerity that steals the show.

Mercutio, played by senior theatre performance and public relations double-major Jack Courtad, is another fan favorite. His character acts as the show’s comic relief and sets up several interesting scenes. Courtad delivers a well-balanced performance and masterfully shifts between moments of humorous sexual tension and sincerity.

The dynamic fight scenes are executed well, and creative choreography choices make each of these moments convincing, detailed and fun to watch. 

A true highlight comes before intermission as Mercutio challenges Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, played by junior painting major and theatre minor Laura Feng, to a knife fight. In a moment of showmanship, Mercutio drops his switchblade to the ground and dramatically slides it across the stage, where it stops under Tybalt’s foot.

Juliet, played by junior theatre performance major Victoria Rusniak, delivers a wonderful performance with an impressive range of emotion. Her monologue is convincing and filled with passion.

Later, we are introduced to Friar Laurence, played by sophomore theatre performance major Aaron Adams, whose costume, hair and cosmetics are exceptional. His fierceness and sassy quips make this character very enjoyable to watch.

Overall, Romeo’s performance left something to be desired, but was an admittedly challenging role.

The creative liberties Bradley’s version of “Romeo and Juliet” takes in its portrayal of this theater classic are greatly appreciated.

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