Romeo and Juliet is not the greatest love story of all time. There. I said it.
I read it first as a freshman in high school, and even then, Romeo and Juliet both seemed like hormonal idiots. They meet, “fall in love” get married, flail melodramatically about the cruelty of fate for a while, and die. The whole thing just seemed…ridiculous.
Thankfully, DC commedia troupe Faction of Fools has found the silly in this ceaselessly melodramatic play. From the first moment Romeo (Shane O’Loughlin) enters on a knee scooter (no, really) sighing like a lovelorn caricature of a schoolgirl, I knew that these were people who really got the play. Faction of Fools finds the funny in the tragedy, and does so with excitement, panache, and talent to spare.
There is so much to love about this production that it is difficult to know where to start. No opportunity for comedy is wasted;
Director Mathew Wilson finds the moments in and between the lines and makes each come alive with laughs. The five person cast is uniformly outstanding, each taking on multiple roles with ease. A special commendation must go to the fabulous Tyler Hernan, whose transitions between the extreme macho man Paris and a shriekingly funny Nurse were a highlight of the performance, and to Gwen Gastorf, whose performance as the faux-dead Juliet made me wish to create a new Olympic category in Death Acrobatics.
A Commedia Romeo and Juliet
Conceived by Matthew R. Wilson
at Fort Fringe – The Shop
607 New York Ave NW
Washington, DC, 20001
Details and tickets
Shane O’Loughlin flits about the stage as the most ridiculously on-point Romeo I have ever seen, and Justin Purvis and Lindsey D. Snyder are fantastic in their multitudinous supporting roles.
The production itself lives up to the talented cast. Scenic Designer Daniel Flint’s magical box supports the story in a series of incredible transformations, becoming by turns a balcony, a bed, a giant cross, a grave, and the aforementioned knee-scooter. Sound designer Thomas Sowers and Music Composer Jesse Terrill have created the perfect auditory underscore for the action, enhancing both the tragedy and comedy, and Aaron Cromie’s masks are a delight.
One of the best things about this show is its near-universal appeal. When peals of laughter run out through the audience, as they did almost constantly, they were punctuated by the hysterical giggles of children, laughing hysterically at what might have been their first introduction to Shakespeare.
Screw high school English class: this is the way we should introduce kids to the Bard. All ages are sure to have a blast at this show. I certainly did.