Vancouver Playhouse

Romeo and Juliet

By William ShakespeareDirector: Glynis Leyshon Set Design: Pam Johnson Lighting Design: Kevin Lamotte Costume Design: Mara Gottler Composer and Sound Design: Tobin Stokes Fight Choreographer: David Bloom Video Designer: Amos Hertzman Stage Manager: Stephen Courtney

Dates: 22 February - 22 March 2003

Reviewer: Jane Penistan

A marble façade, surmounted by a balcony, forms the backdrop for this well loved romantic tragedy. Lively children, their games interrupted, watching the street fights, are seen intermittently during the course of the play. Mara Gottler's stylish costumes are "rich, not gaudy," with the masks for the Capulet ball all-disguising, plumed helmets.

It is a joy to see Christopher Newton back on stage in Vancouver after his long absence as artistic director of the Shaw Festival. His Friar Laurence is paternally benign and authoritative. Alessandro Juliani as an immature young man as Romeo, becomes a passionate lover, and sheds the last of his stormy adolescence under the stern guidance of Friar Laurence.

Meg Roe looks the young, pretty, and innocent Juliet. As her father, Lord Capulet, Allan Morgan is a respected head of his household and a father, trying to do the best for his child. Mercutio (Dean Paul Gibson) is born to lead young men astray, while Benvolio (Jonathon Young) is, as his name suggests, the kindly friend of Romeo. Dion Johnstone is indeed a "fiery Tybalt," full of outrage and belligerence. An unusual casting is that of Shirley Broderick as Escalus, the sovereign of Verona. This iron lady leaves no one in any doubt as to who rules the state.

Glynis Leyshon has paid careful attention to detail in this production. There are subtle, unobtrusive details underlining and enhancing moments of import. The speed of the play is varied, with the poetic speeches being allowed their full time for delivery, and the pace of pre-fight scenes accelerating with mounting intensity to the actual duelling climaxes.

© 2003, Jane Penistan