Annenberg Center last stop for the the critically-acclaimed production by the Acting Company and Guthrie Theater

April 22, 2010

Romeo and Juliet at the Annenberg Center

Posted by Samantha Lazar on April 22, 2010

A special touring production of Shakespeare’s classic “Romeo and Juliet” is at The Annenberg Center this weekend. The Acting Company and The Guthrie Theatre have teamed up for the production, which is running for just six performances. After hitting 26 cities on around the country, the Annenberg Center will be the critically-acclaimed production’s last stop.

I assume I don’t need to repeat the plot of the greatest love story of all time – everyone knows the tale of the young star-crossed lovers, their family feud, their drastic measures, and their tragic ends. What makes the play so brilliant isn’t the story itself (Shakespeare actually ripped it off from an earlier Italian author!), but the way it’s told. Part of the magic comes from the bard himself, what with his flowery Elizabethan language, world-famous soliloquies, and quotable truisms. But another part – and the part that makes it worth seeing multiple times over the years – comes from the performance itself.

This production is a notable one. The Acting Company and The Guthrie Theatre are both Tony award winning companies, and the actors are first-rate. They set the stage not in the Verona of the 1500’s which the story was originally written for, but rather in the city during the turn-of-the-century Edwardian era. Such a backdrop is unusual; the play is often set in the original era or else updated to seem completely contemporary. Setting it around the year 1900 makes for fabulous costumes (think gowns and tuxedos) and a feeling of being removed and fancy but not inaccessible. They also dial up the humor as a counterpoint to the inherent tragedy of the tale, which makes the play entertaining and appealing to a younger crowd.