Double Feature

Review of Romeo and Juliet by Molly L., age 13

You think you know the story: young lovers defy the rift between their families to be together in a love that finally leads them to die for one another. But do you remember the whimpering babies in that story? The moaning dogs or all the picnicking? Welcome to the Amphitheater at Volunteer Park on a Sunday night where many people have come together to enjoy a double feature. No, there aren’t two plays showing tonight but there’s just as much drama offstage here as there is onstage. The audience arrives early to stake claims marked with blankets and garden chairs with the legs cut off. Here everyone is asking themselves “is my chair too tall?” Near the stage the action has already begun as well.

Hana Lass and Michael Place in Wooden O's Romeo & Juliet
Photo by John Ulman

An aisle is staked with bright pink ribbon, huge set pieces are being assembled with the assistance of hammers, nails and scaffolding in a high-speed construction project. The audience finally sits down in their previously claimed seats, picnicking on Ezell’s chicken, Kettle Chips, and fresh fruit. Everyone is talking and mingling; there are no outsiders. Kids run from blanket to blanket, listening to the laughter. Everyone is catching up with old friends, putting up umbrellas to shield them from the sun. Without the stage up front it would look just like a closely packed picnicking area, not a theater.

At this open-air theater there are no lights to go down when the show starts, only the sun, sinking behind the trees. You can see the backstage on the actual platform, but it’s really only a few white tents. Everyone is still talking. Will the noise ever go away? But then, 15 minutes late, the actors come on stage and the crowd suddenly seems to have disappeared because of the quiet.

The play begins. The audience is drawn in by every word spoken by each character. An ice cream truck comes by but it won’t get much business here, the play is providing all the sweet and savory satisfaction that anyone needs. An airplane passes low above and the action stops as the actors stare at it. The crowd laughs, enjoying the entertainment. Attention remains upfront and towards the actors speaking the beautiful lines of the balcony scene, playing off each other, showing real emotion.

“Is love a tender thing?” Romeo asks as the sun sinks and the lighting changes, casting shadows over the audience who cuddle together to keep warm. Night has almost fallen as each lover dies for the other and adds to the chilling thoughts that the suicides inflict.

You walk away with a new perspective on the story, one that includes picnicking people and noise-making babies. The tale of Romeo and Juliet is no longer just another Shakespeare play. It is now the double feature that you’ll remember. With action onstage as well as off until they blend together and there is no separation between audience and actor, we’re all together breathing the same air, our lives sharing the same stage.

- Molly L.
July 13th, 2008

For another viewpoint on Wooden O's Romeo & Juliet, read Michelle K's review.

Romeo and Juliet
Wooden O Productions


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