Romeo and Juliet, the classic Shakespearean love story, is the Actors Shakespeare Company (ASC)'s current play at DeBaun Auditorium in Hoboken.
Often called "the greatest love story ever told," Romeo and Juliet deals with love and hate and how these forces clash and destroy families. ASC, a professional repertory ensemble, brings to life the tragic relationship between the two Italian adolescents from the Capulets and the Montagues.
At the almost packed house opening night on March 7, the cast wore authentic Elizabethan costumes and entertained audiences with Shakespearean sonnets and songs before the show.
Playing the role of "Juliet" is Liza Skinner. She plays the character as vulnerable and fragile and with much emotion. Skinner is convincing and full of energy on stage. Her "Romeo" is Zack Calhoun. He gives his character confidence and determination with charming qualities. The dramatic scenes were not overacted, and his timing was precise.
Romeo is directed by ASC's Collette Rice. ASC's trademark is their preservation of the original Elizabethan language during a play's performance. Formed in September 2000, ASC produces Shakespearean plays as close as possible to the author's original productions, which were often held at England's Globe Theater in the 16th century. Shakespeare's notations in the "First Folio" editions, as historians call the first printed manuscripts recorded in 1623 expressing the author's original intent, are part of the text used by the company, according to Rice.
"Presenting plays as Shakespeare would have wanted it is actually becoming a counter-revolution of sorts," Rice said. "Presentations work best in the original style, though the popular thing to do is 'modernize' the production. The difference is in the relationship between the actor and the audience, and the actor and the words."
To promote ASC and to continue learning about Shakespeare, Rice spent time at the Globe Theater in England last summer, where she studied language and acting with world-renowned Shakespearean actors. The Globe is known to the world as Shakespeare's theatrical home.
"Thinking of The Globe as the 'mother-ship,' it was good to touch base and fine-tune my knowledge of Shakespearean techniques directly from such masters of the craft as Mark Rylance and those leading the Shakespeare's Globe experiment," Rice said.
To the modern ear, Elizabethan English has obscured Shakespeare's inventiveness. However, Shakespeare coined such phrases as having "too much of a good thing," "clearing out your bag," and calling someone "the devil incarnate," a "laughing stock," and a "blinking idiot."
Romeo and Juliet will be performed at DeBaun Auditorium on March 14 at 8 p.m. and March 16 at 3 p.m. Tickets are $20. The venue is at Castle Point on Hudson on Fifth and Hudson streets in Hoboken. For information visit www.debaun.org or call (201) 216-8937. q