Artemis and the Wild Things' Romeo and Juliet takes place in the aftermath of a nuclear apocalypse. The only survivors are two disparate tribes of women, who have regressed into savage tribal societies. The women, left to their own devices, have adopted the tougher, more violent stance of men, with predictable results. The talented women in the cast relished the physical opportunities their male roles offered, but in a tale hanging on the youthful passions of a young man and woman, the immediacy of the story was lost, despite their dedication. The performances were on a consistently high level, with a few exceptional contributions. Judicious cutting to accommodate a two-hour time frame worked well without an intermission, thanks to Artemis Preeshl's fast-paced yet sensitive direction.
The Capulets and Montagues were distinguished by the colors of Maria Suissa's simple costumes. The women courageously allowed themselves to appear without make-up under the unforgiving lights. Jose Vega's light design was disturbing, in that some scenes on the balcony were blindingly bright, and lights were strewn around areas of the balcony and near the spiral staircase, where a lot of action took place, creating a potentially dangerous situation for the actors. The set was almost nonexistent, with extensive use of stairs and balconies delineating individual scenes. Eric Starr's expressive music, too loud at times, enhanced the sorrowful proceedings.
Duvall O'Steen made a delectably rambunctious, romantic Romeo. Angie Moore was an earthy, passionate Juliet but had trouble conveying the youthful innocence that is key to this role. DeeAnn Weir was a powerful Mercutio, commanding the stage whenever she appeared. Erin Bosse contributed the most compelling performance of the evening, as a gentle, conflicted Friar Lawrence. Sara Phillips lacked the warmth and gravity necessary for Juliet's nurse.
Carolyn Sullivan Zinn brought nobility to the role of Lord Capulet, with her beautifully modulated speaking voice and expressive face. Donna Stearns's wonderful Lady Capulet ran the gamut from quirkily fun-loving to heartrending. Brenda Withers was a sensitive, boyish Benvolio, and Margarita Ruiz an empathetic Paris. Denise Alessandria Hurd, also the fight choreographer, was a confidant, athletic Tybalt who shone in the beautifully executed swordplay.
Strong support was offered by Beth Carusillo, Elizabeth Eagen, Kathryn Hnatio, Sarah Koestner, and Barbara McEwen.
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Copyright 2000 Julie Halpern