Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, directed by R.H. Thomson, with Allan Hawco, Mary Krohnert, John Dolan, Lynne Griffin, Blair Williams and Rex Southgate. Presented by ShakespeareWorks at the Home Depot Theatre, Ashbridges Bay Park. Runs to July 25, Tuesday-Saturday 8 pm, Sunday 7 pm, matinees Saturday and Wednesday 2 pm. $25, mats $15, limited student $2. 416-872-1212. Rating: NN Rating: NN
If, when watching Shakespeare-Works's inaugural production of Romeo And Juliet , you start seriously inspecting the gorgeous theatre you're in, you won't be alone. The new outdoor structure at Ashbridges Bay - courtesy of Home Depot - is far more fascinating than what's happening onstage. Performed virtually uncut - not a good idea for early Shakespeare, where there's a lot of repetition - this star-crossed production seems to lack a director, though R. H. Thomson 's name is on the program.
How else to explain the absence of ideas in either the look or feel of the piece, and the wildly varying performances?
From Mary Krohnert's self-conscious and neurotic Juliet to Michael Rubenfeld's hysterical (and unfeline) whip-cracking Tybalt, this is a cast that needs restraining. Even the experienced actors are left to go astray. Rex Southgate's Capulet, when not dropping lines, relies on bluster, while the normally fine Sarah Orenstein as Lady Capulet practically sleepwalks through the show. Lynne Griffin's Nurse is so overwrought, her cascading voice sounds like Cleo Laine doing scat.
Richard Alan Campbell 's Montague and Sanjay Talwar 's Prince are wisely understated, but it's Blair Williams whose performance is most nuanced. His Mercutio is a mercurial tragicomic figure worthy of a better production.
That better production wouldn't include Meiro Stamm 's score, which turns discordant every time there's a bit of tension in the script. What are we - idiots?
Kevin McAllister 's set is easy on the eyes, especially in the final scene, strewn with dozens and dozens of votive candles.
Ah, maybe Home Depot sells them.