Review: Romeo and Juliet rises above the dull roar

Romeo (Austin Frykas) dies after drinking poison, believing a tranquilized Juliet (Breann Landry) is dead. - Peter W. Rusland
Romeo (Austin Frykas) dies after drinking poison, believing a tranquilized Juliet (Breann Landry) is dead.
— image credit: Peter W. Rusland

Noise pollution failed to foil Tuesday’s princely presentation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet in Duncan’s Charles Hoey Park.

Sure, Shawnigan Players’ director Alex Gallacher and his all-ages’ cast have fine tuning to do toward runs this weekend and next in the orchard of Cowichan Station’s Gem O’ The Isle B&B.

Some of Tuesday’s dialogue was drowned by road, air and fire-hall noise many of us ignored while straining to hear the bard’s dialogue.

Gallacher’s actors should have boosted their vocal volume to let us hear their lines above the dull roar.

Even without dialogue, Tuesday’s glorified dress rehearsal was a great taste of what’s coming at the Gem where noise from car mufflers, motorcycles and airplanes won’t be a handicap.

Hoey Park’s towering oaks provided a shady oasis for the sturdy outdoor production tracing the tragedy of the young couple fighting to kindle their love amid petty family feuding.

Fleeting scenes where Romeo Montague (Austin Frykas) and Juliet Capulet (Breann Landry) expressed their affection were touching indeed. But those feelings were swamped by a flood of comical and dramatic relief by Gallacher’s cast outfitted splendidly by Helga Trinczek.

The Players adeptly reflected the bard’s timeless, timely messages about senseless death as Romeo’s rowdy pal, Mercutio (Laura Faulkner) was killed by bitter Tybalt (Aren Beagley), causing Romeo to seek bloody revenge.

He also killed Juliet’s parent-picked fiance Paris (Jacob Dennison), who was jealously bent on confronting Juliet’s real love, Romeo.

Romeo realized the error of society’s killing ways as petty miscommunication sealed his fate, and that of Juliet, to the despair of their grieving families.

Stand-out characterization included Laura’s run as Mercutio, Bob Norris as fumbling fop Peter, Elissa Barron as Juliet’s lovingly tipsy nurse, Ashton Arden’s work as Juliet’s stubborn father, and Delphine Apt-Menu as Juliet’s expressively naïve mom. A nice period touch was Lahna Lampson’s harp playing as interlude music.

Two swords up to Landry and Frykas as the doomed couple whose love was snuffed far too fast while they became victims of tragic circumstances.

Given the quality of Tuesday’s racket-plagued run, get tickets to Romeo and Juliet before they’re sold out.

Shakespearean tragic-comedy play rating: 8.5 kisses out of 10.


Your ticket

What: Romeo and Juliet

When: Gem O’ The Isle on July 31, Aug. 1 and 2, and 7, 8 , 9 at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 3 at 2 p.m.

Where: Gem O’ the Isle, 2465 Koksilah Rd., Cowichan Station, 250-715-0426.

Tickets: Gem O’ The Isle, $15 advance, $20 gate, family of five or less $30 advance, $40 gate; $5 bicyclists’ rebate at the gate Aug. 3 only. Visit Ten Old Books, and Mason’s Store. Email to reserve tickets at advance price: gallacher_alex@yahoo.ca.

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