We All Smell As Sweet

Review of Romeo & Juliet by Michelle K.

I have reason to believe that all modern love ideologies have sprouted off the great Shakespearian classic Romeo & Juliet. Forbidden love is only the more alluring still; a parent’s acceptance towards a relationship can often be seen to adolescents as a passion-killer. Sneaking around and seeing a significant other late at night is always exhilarating for some reason rather than in the sunlight, and the phrase, “I will die if I can’t see _________!” is often a common phrase among young lovers. In this way, the playwright William Shakespeare has left an indelible mark on our love lives, craving a juicy relationship just as the star-crossed teens Juliet and Romeo experienced at the mere ages of 13 and 16.

Hana Lass, John Farrage and Michael Place in Romeo & Juliet
Photo by John Ulman

So really, “Romeo, Romeo, where art thou Romeo?” Well, ask and I shall receive: I found him in Volunteer Park near Capitol Hill, Seattle. Collaborating to piece together the 15th annual Summer Shakespeare Fest, Wooden O Productions and the Seattle Shakespeare Company create an all you can eat buffet of free, outdoor Shakespearian performances. This outdoor theme suited the play that I watched, Romeo and Juliet, very well: free-flowing stage, the whisper of birds in the background, and the warm descending sun all creating a mood of old-world charm. Crowds of the young and old came to share in the fantastically embellished prose of lovers and claimed their seat on the grass in front of the minimally dressed stage. A wooden balcony, the mainstay of the stage throughout the play, served various scenic purposes, and with a little imagination from the viewers, did so quite efficiently.

Most vital to the undoubtedly famous and crowd-drawing Shakespearian play, Romeo and Juliet, was the cast. The chemistry between this eternal couple needed to burst with infatuation and love, the supporting players needed to be witty and breathe life into the characters, and the confusing language of the play needed to be relayed to our contemporary audience with purpose and clarity so we could grasp the message of Shakespeare’s words. In all, this goal was achieved, and then some. Juliet and Romeo were expertly cast, Hana Lass played Juliet and Michael Place acted as Romeo. Both obviously attractive, it was easy to imagine them attracted to each other. Lass has also involved in productions with Strawberry Theatre Workshop, Book-It Repertory Theatre, and Defibrillator Productions. A dark beauty, Hana Lass ably pulled off the character of Juliet, persuasively displaying the evolution of her character’s love-abiding fervor. Place, a handsome, and perfectly picturesque Romeo, charmed the crowd with his bellowing voice that spoke of his convictions towards Juliet. After all, Juliet is the sun. Mercutio, also molding his role into a sardonic and humorous character, made the play even more enjoyable with his mocking and good-natured repartees of Romeo’s “undying” love for Juliet. Moreover, the Nurse provided a comedic outlet in the play, allowing the audience to laugh when laughing was needed. The subtle alterations made to the way things were said in the script were possibly the most tactful move in the cast’s favor. Words were given meaning by using emotion: much of which lacked the first time I read the play in school. To say the least, I came out understanding the prohibited love affair of the Montagues and Capulets much more clearly.

Romeo and Juliet will always live on as the couple who would do anything for each other, even kill themselves. Although I’m not saying take a note from their drastic actions, it may be best to derive the passion from their suicidal ends and take to heart the actual love that existed within the realms of where no love is supposed to be. Symbolically, Shakespeare may have been trying to convey that one should always love thy enemy, which is a valuable concept that should be remembered today especially in this world of constant embattlement. We are all roses, maybe with different names, but surely we all smell as sweet.

- Michelle K.
July 12th, 2008

For another viewpoint on Wooden O's Romeo & Juliet, check out Molly L.'s review.

Romeo and Juliet
Wooden O Productions


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