The Classic Stage Company's production of “Romeo & Juliet” is a grave disappointment. A recent Playbill article stated that its previews were postponed because there were “Scenic element modifications that will require additional technical rehearsals.” Well, the set was so bare, so spare, as to be non-existent. The one interesting thing was the neon red light that divided the floor: The Capulets were on one side, the Montagues on the other. Marsha Ginsberg's design included some metal bridge chairs and a long bench, which served as a honeymoon bed for the famed lovers.
There was no indication of a balcony; this would certainly upset Shakespeare. I remember him saying, “What makes this play special is the balcony; it gives Juliet a place to deliver her most intimate thoughts and allows Romeo to look up and raise himself to a higher level.”
Then, there is the long-suffering Nurse. Poor thing! She is supposed to be elderly; she is suffering from the symptoms of lumbago and other complaints of old age. Here, she is portrayed by the beautiful young actress Daphne Rubin-Vega, who Dio Mio—wears a see-through blouse and spouts Spanish.
Elizabeth's Juliet is sweet and Julien Cihi's Romeo is ineffective; they seem to have no connection. But it is T.R. Knight who gives an offensive performance as my favorite character, Mercutio. Instead of being brave and strong, he is as crazy as a bed bug. The Director, Tea Alagic, should be castigated for allowing this interpretation.
Oh, and the costumes! Clint Ramos had free rein, so in the scene where Romeo goes to a ball at the Capulets' manse, one of the male guests is wearing a “Depends” diaper!
Daniel Davis as Friar Lawrence speaks with a fake English accent; Kathryn Meisle as Lady Capulet is ridiculous in a leopard outfit that looks like she is from Vegas.
If you are going to destroy a play, announce it ahead of time; I will stay home.