Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Summer in Shakespeare...

Alas I wasn't able to get out to see much this summer, I had to restrict myself once again to Shakespeare & Co's offerings in Lenox.
As usual Tina Packer's artistic progeny did not let me down.
Their Romeo and Juliet was a thorough production with two superlative leads, Suzanne Millonzi & David Gelles.
I have it in my head that R &J is actually one of Shakespeare's problem plays, at least as far as US productions are concerned. By this I mean there is a pronounced tendency to cast the two main leads as close to the textual age of the characters as they can get (which is I believe, 13 and 14).
Thus what they gain in credibility, they often lose in technique relying on players that might not have the necessary acting components to rise to the occasion of what amounts to a Renaissance teen suicide drama.
The other practical result is that inevitably with younger players you end up with a stellar Juliet and a Romeo that at best rises to the level of well meaning mediocrity...And if you aren't careful you leave the aud thinking "what did SHE see in HIM?" as the curtain falls.
happily, S&C "doubled up" a bit on the leads and reaped a good artistic harvest as a result. And just let me take a moment to praise Tod Randolph's scene stealing turn as Juliet's nurse/enabler and what she left untaken was scooped up by Kevin O'Donnell's Mercutio.
Oh and lets not forget Johnny Lee Davenport as Lord Montague..."Mister Thunder and Lightning" never lets us down be it tragedy, history or comedy.
The other notable performance was a small cast version of "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" one of the Bard's lesser comedies but put on with real brio in the Bernstein theater. These players are the apprentices and the trainees, but nonetheless, they were very very good and I am rotten glad I dodged a hurricane to see them.
But then this is Shakespeare & Company they get so very little wrong.

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