ROMEO & JULIET by William Shakespeare, directed by Lynne Rafter (Studio BLR). At Siesta Nouveaux (15 Lower Sherbourne). To June 30. Pwyc-$15. 416-364-4556. Rating: NN
I hope there's no equivalent to a health and safety inspector in the theatre world or Studio BLR may have to rethink its crumbling set.
Perched on the edge of busy Sherbourne and Esplanade, this lively production of Romeo & Juliet is staged amidst the people, cars and chaos that make up the St. Lawrence neighbourhood on a hot summer night. Spectators wince as actors clamber all over the hostel's ancient, rotten wooden porch.
The setting is the bohemian BLR studio labyrinth as well as the street. Both backdrops are appropriate for this self-described punk rock version of the Bard's classic story of doomed lovers, even if the punk in punk rock comes across more in the urban aesthetic than in any other element.
Actors cavort in spiky jewellery and ragged costumes while the band composed of members of punk bands EndProgram and HundredHandSlap plays a pumped-up song called Princess written expressly for the production.
The unpredictability of urban life is part of the show, with frightened neighbours wailing "Stop it!" to onstage gunfire, philistines parking cars in the middle of the "stage" and curious cats wandering into scenes.
These punk conceits and distractions can't prevent you from noticing the very uneven diction, accents and acting.
While some actors sound like average Torontonians, others talk like Maritimers or hosers.
Director Lynne Rafter might have unified the speech of her cast, as there are already enough anarchical elements in this fun but very amateurish production.