Review: Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet, 8 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, $15-$25, Veterans Memorial Theatre, 203 E. 14th Street in Davis; (530) 802-0998; Through October 16.
Rated 4.0

With this take on Romeo and Juliet, the Davis Shakespeare Ensemble is once again excellent.

Director Rob Salas chose the story circle format for his production, eliminating the need for actual scenery (except the balcony, of course). All actors sit on chairs in a circle facing the audience and get up and step into gloomy pools of light when it is time for their scene. This approach works surprisingly well here.

The title characters, played by Kyle Stoner and Gabby Battista, are perfect as the impetuous young lovers who meet, fall in love, marry and die within two days. Battista has an innocence about her as she experiences her first feelings of love, and the grief she feels at the death of her cousin Tybalt (Aaron Kitchin) and her new husband’s banishment from Verona.

Stoner is a bundle of energy giving in to his feelings whether for Rosaline, to whom he gave his heart yesterday, or for the beautiful Juliet, who captures his heart today.

The mostly black leather costumes make for a show that’s visually reminiscent of West Side Story, and Sydney Schwindt’s fight choreography by is very effective.

The show’s one drawback comes via an annoying background sound designed to set the depressing mood, even throughout the intermission, and while it may appeal to the younger set, it didn’t sit well with the middle-aged audience.