Abridged & Adapted
by Dmitry Troyanovsky & Lauryn Sasso from William Shakespeare
Directed by Dmitry Troyanovsky
Acted by a Capulet Team of FSU/Asolo Conservatory Students
Cook Theatre, Sarasota, on Oct. 3, 2013, Premiere
Touring Schools and NonProfit Venues through Nov. 11

Reviewed by Marie J. Kilker

As one of two teams on The New Stages Tour of schools and non-profit venues, a Capulet Team of seven FSU/Asolo Conservatory final-year student actors present a 45-minute adaptation of Shakespeare’s romantic tragedy. Scenery and props are at a minimum though sound is used effectively, especially as a bridge between scenes. Despite cutting of characters as well as text, along with doubling to quadrupling of roles (except for the leads), Shakespeare’s theme of star-crossed lovers comes through.  This version begins in confrontation with young Capulet and Montague family guys threatening each other from their perches on the backs of chairs, action initially keeps up emphasis on violence much like that among gangs today.  Ben Williamson’s Romeo fits in, though less than Reginald Robinson’s Mercutio (who speaks what little verse the adaptation allows with as much verve as answering Tybalt’s bullying and threats). Brian Nemerov is frightening as Tybalt, a role he’s much better suited to than, later, the Nurse. (The only differences in the latter portrayal are
that he’s without a headband and with crooked posture and smile.) His family head here is not Lord but Lady Capulet (a strong, commanding Amanda Lynn Mullen).

When Romeo meets Juliet at a dance that has to be imagined, their  love story begins to dominate. It takes over immediately after the death of Mercutio and is most like the original text in the lovers’ balcony meeting and their first night-into-morning.  Both Williamson and the pretty Kristen Lynne Blossom handle their poetry well and act as if truly in love. Her taking-poison scene works without being overly emotive as so often is the case. Tori Grace Hines is credible as the males Benvolio and Friar Laurence, as is Robinson as Montague and Apothecary.  Overall, though the play is dumbed down to a teen-movie type of love story, it should be of interest to the students who are its main intended audience. To get more out of it, they will have to rely on their teachers, popular movies, Shakespeare’s text, and maybe a full stage production of the latter elsewhere.

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