Monday, June 25, 2007

Romeo and Juliet

I haven’t seen a production this good at the Delacorte in a long, long time. The acting was strong, the set was fabulous and the play, of course, is wonderful. The only fault I could find was with director Michael Greif’s decision to have all the actors in practically every scene traipsing through the shallow pond of water that nearly fills the stage. If there was a psychological or symbolic reason, it escaped me.

Otherwise,I was drawn in as soon as I walked into the theatre by scenic designer Mark Wendland’s dramatic set. I loved the starkness -- a large black bow bridge spanning the water, with a black planked boardwalk surrounding it. I always prefer minimalistic sets at the Delacorte because they don’t block out the natural setting of Central Park, which is a large part of what makes going to this theatre so special. This set revolved and the bridge broke in two parts when separation need to be shown.

Oscar Isaac and Lauren Ambrose are just right as Romeo and Juliet, as is Camryn Manheim as the nurse and as are the parents and kinsfolk. I did feel sorry for them Friday night, though, having to spend so much time in the water and then walk around with wet costumes. It was chilly!

For me, it was a perfect Shakespeare in the Park experience. We picnicked first by Turtle Pond and then, comfortably wrapped in a sweaters and a jackets, enjoyed the show as the moon and stars came out. I had a great view of Belvedere Castle, with the pond and its trees, illuminated by park lighting, adding to the magic. It was one of those wonderful New York evenings that is still with me. I always love going to the Delacorte because of the park setting, but during the George C. Wolfe years the shows were more often than not disappointing.

I’m glad The Public Theater is again offering two shows each summer. I look forward to being back there in August for A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

As for tickets, my friend Carolyn Hearn got there around 9 a.m. and I relieved her around 11. Tickets were given out at 1 p.m. and we barely made it in, with seats in the last row. We were told there were fewer tickets than usual because it was a press performance and Bronx night, whatever that is. (I could have had one press ticket, but chose to wait it out with Carolyn because we’ve been doing this for more than a decade, since my previous longtime Shakespeare in the Park friend, Kate Kinney, moved to Seattle.)

Romeo and Juliet continues through July 8.

No comments: