The end of August marked the end of Cincinnati Shakespeare Company’s“Shakespeare in the Park” series. It is a wonderful program that brings two Shakespearean plays each summer to parks all over Cincinnati, and the best part, its free! This summer they produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet.
I have seen many productions of Romeo and Juliet. I’ve seen it performed in different countries, by professionals, by students, even a musical version (yuk!). But Cincy Shakes’ production was without a doubt the best I have ever seen. I saw the show at a small park with tight seating, all arranged under a shelter. The show was scheduled to start just as the sun was setting behind the tress, and although it was hot, there was something so exciting about waiting to watch this show outside in the twilight. The opening was sudden and caught the attention of the chatting crowd as the small cast of 6 stood and announced the show and the characters they would be playing. Together they recited the prologue, and the story began. I wondered how on earth a cast of 6 was going to perform this play, but they did so seamlessly. The actors who played multiple characters throughout the show were impressive. They managed to be unrecognizable from one character to the next, changing not just their costumes but their posture, tone and expression as well.
The actress playing Juliet, Maggie Lou Rader, was spectacular. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performance in which Juliet actually acted like a 13-year-old girl! She was fussy, moody, over-the-top, sweet, gushing and giddy… it was so realistic and true to those awkward and innocent years. The way she played some of the lines, which are usually spoken in a very composed way were recited by Rader with such over-the-top excitement that she jumped and squealed. It was inspiring to see a classic character performed in such a realistic and refreshing way.
It is always interesting to see how the Cincy Shakes troupe adapts their show to different stages. Last summer I watched The Tempest at a park in the city which had it’s own large stage and a wide open area for patrons to set up chairs or sit on blanets. The space in which they performed Romeo and Juliet was very small in comparison. The troupe set up their own seating for the audience and used the aisles for some entrances and exits which gave the show a very different feel from the larger park setting. During the intermission the actors walked among the crowd to chat with the spectators. I proudly had a photo taken of my newborn boy with Juliet, a necessary act for a theatre teacher. Everyone who was part of the show was approachable and friendly. As of now I don’t know what Cincinnati Shakespeare has planned for next summer, but if you are in the area make sure you catch one of these shows! They never disappoint!
Latest posts by Emily Lafferty (see all)
- The Edinburgh Festival, Part Two: Edinburgh Festival Fringe & Book Festival - December 8, 2013
- The Edinburgh Festival, Part One: Edinburgh International Festival - September 27, 2013
- How do you know if you have written the perfect play? - September 17, 2013