RAVE: SF Shake’s Romeo and Juliet Review– San Francisco Shakespeare Festival 

Though large trees surround you, pestering bugs fly, and the wind is chilling, SF Shake’s completely free “Romeo and Juliet” will transport you from the park, where you sit, to Verona, the destination in which the play takes place. In this “Romeo and Juliet”, Rebecca J. Ennals’ direction, William Shakespeare’s writing, and Gwen Loebs’ marvelous portrayal of the Nurse/Lady Montague will ensure you an entertaining, joyous evening. (Though the play is a tragedy.) It is, however, the entire cast and crew which pulls you into Verona, whether you like it or not.

First published in 1597, William Shakespeare’s “Romeo and Juliet”, is a theater classic, that is performed all over the world to this day. The plot follows two families, which uh… battle each other. One is called the Montague, and the other is called the Capulet. Though the two families hate each other, Romeo (played by Carl Holvick), whom is a part or the Montagues, and Juliet (Lauren Spencer), a part of the Capulets, find love. Their romance, of course, is forbidden, due to the hatred in the two families. They decide to hold a secret marriage, and on that joyous wedding day, fate pounces the star-crossed lovers.

This production of “Romeo and Juliet,” uses frames, that portraits would be put in, to show the change of the characters. In the opening Sonnet, each family’s Man and Lady recite the words, with heads peering out of frames made for each individual family.  In the end, however, the Man and Lady of both families peer into one shared frame, to show how both families came to reconcile. This original take on the sonnet, displays the wonderful direction by Ms. Ennal. This is one mere highlight out of the many there are in the blissfully entertaining two and a half hours. 

Yes, there are many more highlights. Highlights including the scene in which Juliet and Romeo embrace each other, while Juliet stands on the balcony. The scene showcases the astonishing acting ability of Lauren Spencer and Carl Holvick. 

Oh, and dare I forget the scene where Juliet screams, as she stabs herself. 

When Lauren Spencer gave out that cry, the audience was dead silent. I had my jaw open wide. Chills crawled up my spine, in a split second. (And they weren’t caused by the wind.)

But in the end, Gwen Loeb steals the show. She plays the nurse/Lady Montague. As I have mentioned previously, she is one of the main reasons to spread a blanket, and sit for two and a half ours outdoor for. She is hilarious, charming, and just plain, amazing. Every time she appeared onto the stage, a wide smile would spread across my face. Gwen Loeb has such stage presence, that anyone (or anything for that matter) who laid eyes on her,  would be fixated on the astonishing performance that she was giving. 

So, go on over to a park that SF Shake’s “Romeo and Juliet” is performing in, and sit on the cool grass, blanket, or chair. And in the end, fork in some cash, in hope that SF Shakes will continue to entertain for years to come. 

INFORMATION 

From the program: 

Romeo and Juliet begins at 7:30 and runs for 2 1/2  hours, including one 15/minute intermission. 

For the full schedule, and more info, check out this link:

http://www.sfshakes.org/programs/romeo-juliet-free-shakespeare-in-the-park/summer-2015-schedule

-TJ 

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