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Bishop Ireton High School Romeo & Juliet

By • Nov 17th, 2008 • Category: Cappies

Tybalt’s guttural cry of anguish echoes through the auditorium as he wrenches the foil from his throat and collapses to the ground, only for the silence to be broken by the frantic cries of Benvolio. So the tragedy unfolds onstage in Bishop Ireton’s recent production of Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s timeless tragedy tells the story of two lovers, Romeo and Juliet, crossed by fate and family, whose attempts to reconcile their love leads only to sorrow and grief for themselves and their families, the Capulets and Montagues. The Elizabethan tragedy is given a modern facelift, with such amenities as iPods, flashlights, and Starbucks coexisting with the dress and weaponry of the 17th century, giving the production an entirely unique feel for an old classic.

The Bishop Ireton cast takes full advantage of the freedom that their unique setting gives them, with such moments as seamlessly transitioning from an Elizabethan dance to two individuals drinking a cup of Starbucks in the morning; the cast fully captures the timeless nature of Shakespeare’s plays. The additional element of the playful humor in the first act, with such gags as a Maxim magazine to get over Romeo’s first love Rosaline, help the production create a strong dichotomy between the joy of the first half and sorrow of the second.

James Robertson‘s portrayal of Romeo and Celine Daubresse‘s portrayal of Juliet capture the deep feelings of the characters while charting their ways through a wide range of emotions. These two are also backed by the strong performance of Andrew Ferguson‘s Mercutio, whose antics capture humor of the early play, and at the same time captures and evokes the tragedy of the play in his final monologue.

The surprise performance of the production is the ensemble of Andrew Ferguson’s Mercutio and Jake Gaudet‘s Benvolio, whose chemistry work perfectly together throughout their time together and adds extensive depth to each of their respective characters. This is in addition to the strong acting of Emilia Lynch, who’s Nurse goes the entire spectrum from motherly to grieving, provides strong support for both of the leads to lean upon. While at times the character’s versatility seemed to stall throughout the production, the overall energy of the ensemble well made up for these moments to create a strong performance.

The set for the play provided a surprising amount of versatility for the actors, and its detail from the plants to the small fountain on stage created a strong Elizabethan feeling without caging the actors to specific actions or style. Additionally each character benefited from an extensive wardrobe, especially in the first act where each character appeared to have three costumes that helped the actors show a change in scene. The sound at times suffered from odd music sequences, but was greatly assisted by the clarinet ensemble whose live performance onstage added an interesting musical element to the production.

Taking on any production as famous as Romeo and Juliet is a daunting task, and the Bishop Ireton cast not only met the task but surpassed it in an extremely strong performance.

by Nathaniel Adragna of Walt Whitman H.S.

(Learn more about this production in this article: Behind the Scenes with Bishop Ireton’s Romeo and Juliet.)

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