When: July 11-28 2013
While duly hailed as the greatest love story of all time, Romeo and Juliet is also one of Shakespeare’s most routinely butchered plays. As one of his less complex works, it is prone to puerile, passionless productions, full of wistful recitations and closed-mouth kisses. Not so with Shana Cooper’s boldly physical version, now in production at Cal Shakes, which emphasizes something too often snuffed out by puritanical sensibilities: Juliet, though only thirteen, is a character roiling with sexual passion. The whole story depends on this, lest her ultimate suicide become mere melodrama. Rebekah Brockman gives a riveting, at times animalistic performance, playing against Dan Clegg as a suitably red-blooded, boyishly charming Romeo. Cooper takes certain modern liberties with the action (Mercutio chugs a beer before crashing a Capulet party, and playfully feels up friend Benvolio in a curious new interjection of eroticism) but the text remains unchanged, played out on a bare stage that bears the traffic of one wildly hormonal teen summer in Verona.