Bad Romance: Romeo and Juliet


playersOne of the most beloved of William Shakespeare’s plays is Romeo and Juliet, the tale of two star-crossed lovers from two feuding families – the Montagues and the Capulets.

The charming Romeo (Austin Venditelli) is smitten with the fair-haired Juliet (Kristin Wedel McGuirk), who faces resistance from her strong-willed father (Andrew Stigler), and Stigler is very effective when Capulet rages against Juliet’s desire to be with Romeo.

No spoilers here, but I will say things do not end well for our young lovers.

I really enjoyed this production, which has been imaginatively staged by director Roger Lemelin. Lemelin allows the performers to bring a sense of humor and irreverence to the proceedings, although there is plenty of pathos as well.

Although Venditelli and McGuirk are superbly matched as the ill-fated couple, the show is stolen by the supporting players, especially Marcia A. Layden as the Nurse and Mike Pugliese as Romeo’s friend Mercutio, who meets an untimely end. Layden and Pugliese brought a lot of comic charm to their characters and were a delight to watch.

Joan Dillenback, who has directed several shows for The Players, gave a memorable performance as the Prince of Verona. Alvaro Beltran, as Benvolio, and Nicholas Menna, as Tybalt, exhibited the right amount of bravado and anger.

Romeo and Juliet showcases the dark side of human nature and how the petty jealousies and resentments of man can lead to great destruction and sorrow. The greatest tragedy is the subterfuge Romeo and Juliet are forced to engage in so that their families won’t discover their relationship. When the truth is revealed, it shatters the survivors.

If you’re a Shakespeare fan, then you will find plenty to savor in this production.

Romeo and Juliet runs through March 19. The Players. 400 Benefit St., Providence.



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