Balance the World of Love and Family

Review of Romeo y Julieta presented by Seattle Shakespeare Company

Written by Angelina N. during an Arts Criticism workshop at Glacier Middle School


Our school had the opportunity of allowing 8th graders to watch local performers perform a rendition of the Shakespearean play, Romeo and Juliet - or in this case, Romeo y Julieta. The actors themselves did wonderful, however, myself and many others found that the play was quite confusing and boring. Many of us had no idea what was going on, and the play seemed to drag on for hours (which it technically did).

The play Romeo y Julieta follows the tragic story of two star-crossed lovers in Verona, Italy as they balance the world of love and family. The two meet at a masquerade feast where they both meet for the first time and fall in love. Unfortunately for them, their families, the Montagues and the Capulets, have been enemies for many generations. Even knowing about the feud, the two decide to get married with assistance from Julieta’s nursemaid and Friar Lawrence. The day of their wedding, Julieta’s cousin Tybalt and Romeo’s cousin Mercutio participate in a duel where Tybalt ends up taking Mercutio’s life. Upon hearing about the death of his cousin, Romeo finds, duels, and kills Tybalt. When the Prince found out about the deaths, he sentenced Romeo to exile. Julieta, not wanting to be without Romeo, or marry Paris whom her father is forcing her, tries to kill herself. However, Friar Lawrence helps her hatch up a plan for her and Romeo to run away together. Julieta fakes her death and awaits Romeo in her family tomb. The Friar’s plan however did not work because Romeo misses the Friar’s message about Julieta and goes to see her himself. At her tomb, he meets and kills Paris before finally seeing Julieta’s alleged dead body. He kisses her and downs some poison and dies at the foot of her tomb. Julieta wakes up not too long after to find Romeo dead and kills herself to be with him.

As I have said before, the actors did wonderful. They worked with what they had, a small cast of six people and a very limited set which was the gym floor, as well as speaking in both old English and Spanish without any mics, and though those things were great feats, it was also what made the play confusing.

For example, the play was confusing because we could not understand what the actors were saying. Firstly, the entire play was in a mix of old English and Spanish. Not everybody knows Spanish, so only a few choice words or phrases were in Spanish, but with that, I found myself understanding the Spanish more than the old English. Not only that, but there was a lack of microphones. The actors projected well, but even the loudest actors cannot talk loudly for two hours straight. This especially became a problem during the parts where the audience cheered. Not a word was heard nor comprehended in those moments. The actors did well in the sense that we could kind of follow the play by watching only their actions and by piecing things together using context clues, but that gets difficult as the time leads on and we start losing focus.

Another reason why the play was confusing was because the cast was pretty small. Many of the actors had to play more than two characters. To do this, they all had to do quick costume changes which meant that the costumes themselves were very simple. The problem with that is because of how vague the costumes were sometimes, it was hard to figure out who was who, especially when we could not hear them address one another. After a while of course, I was able to figure out who was who and I appreciated the costumes because they were distinct enough, but I cannot say the same for everyone else.

Lastly, the play Romeo y Julieta was pretty boring. The play had some fun, exciting action-packed scenes when people were dueling or during the ending where the protagonists died, but the rest of it seemed to drag on. This, along with the audio issue I discussed earlier and the length of the dialogue or monologues, I ended up looking around the gym and the audience a lot while zoning out. A lot of people even fell asleep. I think the actors or the script writer could have made the play overall more enticing, but maybe it was just the energy of middle schoolers at the end of the day after sitting on the stiff bleachers for two hours.

In conclusion, the production of Romeo y Julieta was confusing and boring due to their lack of microphones, detailed costumes, large enough cast, and fast paced scenes. Even after everything I have said, I still really enjoyed having the opportunity to watch this play and I recommend you do too if you have the chance.

Lead photo credit: Romeo y Julieta by Seattle Shakespeare Company. Photo by Christian Zumbado.

The TeenTix Press Corps promotes critical thinking, communication, and information literacy through criticism and journalism practice for teens. For more information about the Press Corps program see HERE.

This review was written as part of an Arts Criticismworkshop at Glacier Middle School in Ms. Chase's Language Arts classes, taught by Press Corps teaching artist Jordi Montes.

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