Unfortunately, the 25th season of the Greater Victoria Shakespeare Festival was unable to really capture the spirit of the plays on offer.
Romeo and Juliet seemed directionless and absurdly put together. It is not a comedy, yet with crude physical gags and a rapping servant it seemed like a parody of the original. The decision to keep the Capulet’s as a wealthy family, while making the Montague’s a poor, gang-like group was incompatible with the story’s concept. It removed the original time period, but gave no replacement. Are the Montague’s 1950’s greasers? Have the Capulet’s become members of a 1920’s garden party? And how does that rapping servant of the 2000’s fit into it?
The lead of Romeo (played by Kiaran McMillan, also Lysander) failed to incite the necessary tone of the performance. He needs to work more on hand gestures so there is more than just one motion. Yet some of the acting was superb. Juliet (Sarah Jane Pelzer, Titania in AMND) and Mercutio (Trevor Hinton, Oberon in AMND), both professionally trained actors, and Sister Laura (Michelle Morris, Helena in AMND) captured my attention from the start, and proved to be insightful in their craft.
GVSF improved with A Midsummer Night’s Dream, a lively, fun tale that easily engaged the audience. In every version there’s one section that seems to take over in comedic skill and entertainment, and this time it was Bottom’s adventures (Paul Henry Oppers, not in R+J). Oppers’ experience in improv proved useful for Bottom, he knew just how far to take the silliness without going over the top.
Romeo and Juliet: 4/10
A Midsummer Night’s Dream: 6/10