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“The spirited and freewheeling 'Romeo & Juliet' is a 90-minute diversion played by a nine-member cast on a simple rug surrounded on four sides by a few rows of audience...Sheldon Best's cocky Romeo with a sensitive side is a fine match for Ayana Workman's sweet and playful Juliet...As is customary with Mobile Shakespeare Unit's productions, there's little room for subtext within the swift, plot-driven storytelling, but there's certainly joy to be found in celebrating the project's mission.” Full Review
"Mr. Best is powerfully charming, an appealing mix of youthful braggadocio and sincere emotion...Ms. Workman is a less assured actress, but her Juliet is sweetly innocent, and much of the supporting cast does fine work...Sure, some things are lost in this rendition: a couple of soliloquies; the tale’s social dimension; maybe the tragedy, too. But what’s left is a propulsive, feisty version of the play." Full Review
"Its forays into humor can be too bald, too unnecessary, and borderline destructive to the pensive mood Shakespeare labored so tirelessly to create. And none of the performances is likely to linger long in your mind as a definitive interpretation. But overall it lands, sometimes electrically so, on its own terms...DeBessonet has blown—by wind tunnel, would be my guess—every speck of dust off this play, while allowing it to retain its usual timeless sheen. " Full Review
"From the first note of the violin that opens the play to the last words spoken, for 90 minutes everyone at The Public’s Shiva Theater is airborne. It is sheer energetic bliss...This production by The Mobile Unit is so fresh that it feels new. The directing by Lear deBessonet is inspiring. The actors leap and jump and dance and tear at a set comprised of nothing more than a large carpet, a ladder and two benches with their teeth and bodies, gnashing away with intense glee." Full Review
“A nimble and engaging 'Romeo and Juliet' with the potential to draw in Shakespeare devotees and newbies alike...For those looking for a laugh, the production takes special care to celebrate the humor. If you're looking for action, the play still has its fair share of combat...Some of the costumes and props feel a little too 'Let's put on a show'-y...But such quibbles feel pretty insignificant when you consider what this energetic, friendly, and lively production gets right.” Full Review
"It’s a high-energy, high-impact performance with brilliant fight direction by Schall...This war between the Capulets and the Montagues features authentic, edgy performances...This artistic team has sought to create a play that is mobile in every way. With this notion, there is a sense of engagement and theatricality...The quick-paced action never seems to stop." Full Review
"Making due with basic props like ladders and small tools to recreate classic scenes, the focus is on the action and the relationships between the characters. It's proof that lofty and elaborate sets are not always necessary for great storytelling. This diverse cast breathes new life into this classic tale, under Lear deBessonet’s strategic direction, with plenty of humorous moments as well as emotional hook points." Full Review
"The physicality is lovely and perfectly fitting…There is, however, less fervor and richness in the actors’ use of the verse itself…The adaptation did not weight the two title roles equally, to the detriment of the play as a whole…Flawed though it is, the production is never condescending, and it is more successful than many at tapping into the various wellsprings of energy— love, lust, joy, friendship, violence— that set all of Verona’s citizens onto a collision course with tragedy." Full Review
See it if you like the Bard, or even if you don't (be converted). Judicious cutting, clever staging, strong acting (great Romeo). Emotionally intense.
Don't see it if you like your Shakespeare old-fashioned. This is a refreshing take, emphasizing youthful exuberance. Skillfully performed in the round.
See it if you want to see R&J in a brisk, fast-paced performance. Perfect for the "not sure about Shakespeare" crowd and for young people.
Don't see it if You've seen other R&Js and don't need another one, or you aren't up for traditional language.
See it if Sheldon Best is a charismatic Romeo. (third time I've seen him on stage) 90 minutes fly by. deBessonet directs an intimate presentation.
Don't see it if Fight direction is thrilling. Max Woertendyke is a combative Mercutio. I saw him last year at Juilliard from which he recently graduated.
See it if /for troupe dedicated to entertaining the audience, energetic fight scenes, vital Romeo by Sheldon Best
Don't see it if /since actors sometimes mistake vehemence for acting, gorgeous language of classic is not projected, original music repetitive/boring
See it if You like all things Shakespeare
Don't see it if You are used to the Mobile Shakespeare being AMAZING. While very well acted, the main actors were mismatched, and the staging wasn't great.
See it if you want to support the Mobile Shakespeare outreach program (and you should!), see 8 actors playing all roles, plus a violinist/singer.
Don't see it if / As a diehard Mobile Shakes fan, this one doesn't stand out as much, but its reason for being outweighs any "review."
See it if You're a Shakespeare fan or if you want a refresher on Romeo & Juliet with a unique, short (90-min) presentation.
Don't see it if You hate Shakespeare, stick only to really professional, large-scale productions, or hate when actors interact with the audience.
See it if You're not sure you like Shakespeare, or you think Shakespeare can only be performed or enjoyed by a certain demographic.
Don't see it if You've seen a million R&Js already, and/or you're going to scream a silent scream if someone has made vast cuts to a beloved play.
See it if You want a great intro to Shakespeare in a lively, funny, no -traditional, yet still moving performance.
Don't see it if You want to see a traditional version of the play. Also, this is a shorter version of the original, though it still feels whole.
See it if you are into romance and mushy gushy stuff. Also you should see it if you like literature. I love seeing things come to life(:
Don't see it if you aren't into romance and hate sad endings.
See it if You love Shakespeare and classic romances. It's dreamy in the language and exquisite in the telling of the story!
Don't see it if You don't like Shakespeare or can't understand Elizabethan dialogue.
See it if you like simple storytelling, great acting and want a refreshingly quick bite-sized introduction to or re-imagining of Shakespeare.
Don't see it if you are a Shakespeare purist, want to hear the text in its entirety, aren't open to stretching your imagination.