After climbing three fights of stairs at Plays and Players theater the audience sits and waits for the show to begin. It starts 20 minutes late, assaulted by god-awful, pounding piped-in bubblegum disco music. The unpromising introduction did not lead me to expect much from the performance. Then the players appear onstage, and commence to deliver the most energetic, informed, brilliantly physical, well directed and superbly acted production of Romeo and Juliet that I’ve experienced. Maddy Gillespie plays Juliet bravely, and Anthony Ocampo is a sensitive Romeo.
Fight scenes are well choreographed, and actors go at each other with a will. It’s over the top- and it works. The usual swords and knives are replaced with paint brushes dipped in pinkish red “blood.” A little weird, but it works. There are extravagant dramatic death scenes, a sassy nurse, annoying mother, and a woman playing Tybalt, who does a good job in –seriously- a man’s role. Mercutio is a personal fave, and it’s important to have a wonderful Mercutio. which OJ Production has.
There are only 5 sold-out shows. More shows should be added asap. It’s a tragedy that more audiences will not have a chance to enjoy the production.
[OJ Productions at Plays and Players, 1714 Delancey Street] September 23-25, 2022; fringearts.com
Directed by: Jack Taylor, Romeo: Anthony Ocampo, Juliet: Maddy Gillespie, Benvolio: Taylor Morgan, Mercutio: Matthew Carter, Lady Capulet: Brittany Delaware, Tybalt: Ilana HuiYa Lo, Nurse: Kayleigh Smith, Friar Lawrence: Christina Carelli, Paris: Michael McInerney