The following article appeared in the Valley Advocate
on July 22, 1998.
Polished and Pubescent
New works and a rejuvenated
classic hit area stages
By Chris Rohmann
Romeo and Juliet
By William Shakespeare, directed by Timothy Holcomb. Hampshire Shakespeare Company, at the
Lord Jeffery Inn, Amherst (Sun., Tue. and Thu.) and Pines Theater, Look Park, Northampton
(Fri.-Sat.), 7 p.m., through Aug. 1. For information call 548-8118.
There's a central but often overlooked detail about Romeo and Juliet:
Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers and their street-brawling cousins are teenagers, driven
more by adolescent hormones than tragic flaws. To underline this element, and its
parallels to today's volatile teens-with-guns, director Timothy Holcomb has cast the title
roles and several others with actors almost as young as the characters they play.
This strategy lends a youthful energy to the production and in one case turns up a
truly outstanding performance. Ned Dunn is a spirited, complex and heartfelt Romeo (and
he's just as cute as Leonardo DiCaprio). He has a natural poise, and his very lack of
professional polish gives him an engaging directness. His Juliet, Jordana Harper-Ewert,
has an affecting girlish charm but is convincing only when depicting delight. In a large
supporting cast, three company veterans give every scene they're in a hearty energy.
Walter Carroll is a vigorous, genial Father Capulet, Sarah Wilson an amusingly garrulous
Nurse and Stephen Eldridge a robust Friar Lawrence.
Holcomb's production is lively and well-paced, though the company's policy of staging
Shakespeare uncut makes for a three-hour evening that eventually drags. Fightmaster Jeff
Lord's swordplay is realistically athletic, and effective period touches are added by
Sarah Strong's Italianate costumes, Nona Monáhin's historically accurate dances and Ijod
Schroeder's onstage Elizabethan music.