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    Psalm 45:1

    "My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."

    Galatians 2:20

    I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.



    Friday, March 12, 2010

    Review of Actors from the London Stage Performance of Romeo & Juliet


    Robert Oakley 

         Thirty-five years of performance delight while touring over 15 universities  all the way  from  Notre Dame to our very own HBU Huskies, this “truly unique” program guarantees to deliver a show sure to entice the imagination and give a surreal perspective of the Shakespearian era.

         Actors from the London Stage come to Houston Baptist University with Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet--a most famous romance between “star-crossed” lovers never meant to be.

         Granted the stage was small being the limited but infamous Mabee Theatre, one should expect this minute space to widen as the characters develop one scene to the next while transporting the audience into a tale set in Italy long ago.

         Actors of the London Stage rapture themselves not from Notre Dame nor London but the land of Shakespeare itself. A stage richly designed with high walls, narrow streets, lush meadows, and exquisite skies; the characters with elegant costumes and shimmering blades of combat; the drama, action, and romance--all were there but in the imaginations of a captive audience. For Shakespeare, all that is needed are actors, a stage, and a whiteness to the magic.

         English director Peter Brook used the term, “Empty Space” when referring to the theatre. This empty space for Thursday night’s performance was little Mabee theatre and was quickly filled with participants of many walks of life longing to connect through a classic presentation of a truly romantic but tragic tale.

         As the lights dimmed, the audience prepared themselves. Walking upon the stage five modern thespians appeared on the thrust not in beautifully designed wardrobes of Shakespeare's time but all in blue hoodies and black cargo-pants. And not upon a well dressed stage but merely a single row of chairs on either side. If this was disconcerting and uncomfortable for some, the actors presented a most creative illusion which would veil the critical eye as the players introduced themselves as not only one but many characters disguising between themselves with colored scarves of green, red, and white.

         For starters, Geoffrey Lumb and Jennifer Higham introduced themselves as Romeo and Juliet  followed with a bo. Proceeding after was Martin Parr who introduced himself not as Friar Lawrence as his tall masculine stature would suggest at first but as “Lady Capulet,” which assured the audience that tonight would indeed be a delightful evening and hold true to Shakespearian  tradition. Among the other players were Liz Crowther and Marshall Griffin--all experienced and talented performers. After these quick and humorous introductions, the play officially began.

         The audience was truly engaged as they laughed to not only crafty dialog but convincing body language as the troupe of players used every part of their being to convey their characters. Starting off with a friendly soccer game--a fascinating ploy to suggest how the initial argument  between  the families of Capulet and Montague began--a quarrel soon started and swords were drawn setting the mood, imbruing the imagination and making the mundane of props magnificent. It is this way all throughout the play: from the beginning of the first act to the tragic end of the second.

         The London Stage Actors delivered their performance in a most simplistic but complex way and yet they deserve so much credit, let not one forget the genius behind the writing but none other then William Shakespeare himself. Without him, the story, and the compelling characters, the play would be nothing. A standing ovation to the London Stage Actors as they presented a classic holding true to tradition yet adding a modern twist that made it enjoyable for all.

    "My heart is inditing a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer."

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