Shakespeare’s immortal tale of star-crossed lovers kicks off the Classic Theatre’s 12th season in a bold production directed by Joe Goscinski. Setting the piece in the present day, Goscinski’s intention was to bring the current political climate into the conversation.
“We’re playing the idea of the border between Mexico and the United States into this as a wall that divides two peoples,” he told ArtScene SA. “I think there’s a lot of emotion in our culture and our politics today. In between that, there are those who love each other despite their differences.”
The parallels can certainly be easily drawn. Today there are so many people who have friends and family members whose political views are the opposite of theirs, yet they must still find ways to get along.
The modern touches extend to the set design (the walls are spray-painted with graffiti) and the costuming.The Capulets have “C” insignias on their costumes while the Montagues’ clothing is emblazoned with “M”s. The performances also bear some modern touches. At one point, Romeo flips off Mercutio and characters occasionally speak Spanish, reinforcing the U.S./Mexico wall metaphor. But the language is still very much the Bard’s.
Josh Davis and Alyx Gonzales are excellent as the title couple, and their passion is convincingly portrayed. Also outstanding are Nick Lawson as Mercutio, Carolyn Dellinger as Romeo’s confidante, Friar Laurence, Laura Boyd as his cousin, Benvolio, and Donna Provencher as Juliet’s nurse.
The intriguing casting choices have male roles being played by females in what can be interpreted as another modern, ironic twist, because in Shakespeare’s day, all actors were male, regardless of which sex was being portrayed.
Goscinski’s direction emphasizes the poetry inherent in Shakespeare’s work. Elisa Bierschenk provides the attractive costuming, and the set by Alfy Valdez is well-illuminated by Pedro C. Ramirez. John C. Coker’s music and sound design also enhance the atmosphere.
Romeo and Juliet plays Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 3:00 p.m. through Sept. 29 at the Classic Theatre of San Antonio, 1924 Fredericksburg Rd. Reservations can be made online or by calling (210) 589-8450.
Photos by Siggi Ragnar.