Written by William Shakespeare. Directed by Gus Krieger.
Running November 2 through December 1, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm
This is the 30th of Shakespeares plays that the good people at the Porters of Hellsgate have produced, on their spectacular way though his entire cannon. I have to admit, I’ve been rather looking forward to it…
They have staged the play traditionally, thankfully. No apocalyptic future, no startling modern twists. Rather they have chosen to let the words do their magic, the characters stir our souls and the sorrow do its worst.
This play is iconic of course, the story has been told and retold a thousand times and in as many ways. So what is it that moves us so? What is it about these star crossed lovers and their cursed families that prove so hard to shake even though we always know their bitter end? It’s a mystery I suppose. Or is it the way the play unfolds with laughter, lust and teenage trouble? With heartache and rivalry and kids with too much time on their hands and no real consequences? Too much privilege can make the fall all the farther and all the harder.
The players are perfection, as the Porters players always, always are. Lovely Romeo and precious Juliet. The fights are expertly done, the anger visceral, the characters proud and brooding and vain. There are a couple of gender flips, which is barely noticeable honestly, but add hugely to the play in subtle and real ways. It all works splendidly. No flash, no fluster, all commitment and honesty and heart.
You might imagine that you couldn’t mess up “Romeo and Juliet.” You’d be dead wrong if you pardon the pun. I’ve seen some shocking productions, and this is definitely not one of them.
The Porters of Hellsgate are nothing if they are not shrewd and this production is a beautiful, billowy, intoxicating, rollicking, heartfelt interpretation of one of the most beloved stories ever told.
They followed the language, they worshipped the story and left the actors to tear our hearts out with abandon. It’s a wonderful production with no coyness, no smirks, no ‘lessness.’
Shakespeare is a god of prose for a reason and this play is all his talent at its very best. So let it be I say and The Porters of Hellsgate have done just that…and it is brilliant!
The Whitmore Lindley Theatre, 11006 Magnolia Blvd., North Hollywood, 91601
Will Block and Rachel Seiferth will take on the titular roles; filling out the ensemble are Ted Barton, Michael Bigley, Thomas Bigley, Lauren Jean Lee, Dana DeRuyck, Allison King, Evan Lipkin, Nick Neidorf, Amanda Noriko Newman, and Jordann Zbylski.