Last Sunday, I had the opportunity to watch the timeless Shakespearean classic and probably one of the most recognizable theatrical pieces, Romeo and Juliet, as performed by the University of Missouri’s theatre troupe.
I love theatre, but I wasn’t as enthusiastic about the performance simply because Romeo & Juliet is so well known it leaves out any element for surprise. And that fault doesn’t lie with the actors or directors, there’s only so many ways to revamp a classic without deviating too far from the original story line.
Besides my prior disposition on the piece itself, I thought the play overall was performed quite well, this definitely wasn’t some average high school play. The professional feel comes from the ambiance of the venue itself, along with the level of acting displayed, and coupled with the impressive props and their part in the play. Even from the balcony I was able to hear the muffled cries of Juliet, and as a person who acted on a competitive drama team, that is not the easiest task to accomplish.
Another thing I feel made an impact on setting this performance apart from the rest was the use of a diverse cast. Romeo along with the king and queen were all people of color, which was a refreshing change from the usual whitewashed cast that everyone is used to. I applaud the director for making that casting decision. He or she could have easily had them fill the “quota” and placed them as an extra or a character of lesser importance, but they instead used their creative control to give them parts of value. That’s something worth appreciating.
In regards to props, this was another major component that made this performance keep an audience engaged for the duration of 3 hours. One of my suitemates who is minoring in theatre actually had a hand in constructing the backdrop to portray Italy so I was able to hear her account of making this play come to life. The grand staircase and balcony effortlessly transitioned from the first scene to curtain call. Also the costumes I thought were lovely although I wondered if the prints were fitting for this time frame. It wasn’t the right type of regal in my opinion, but I understand that style of dress is up for interpretation.
A great performance overall, talented group with amazing prospects for the future. Hopefully this won’t be the last work I see from them in my time at Mizzou.