Shakespeare Comes to Life in Abington

An In-school Field Trip into the World of Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet performers

Kathryn Genest, Staff Writer

On Wednesday, Feb 7, AP Literature seniors, all freshman, and all eighth graders attended a performance of “Romeo and Juliet” put on by the Bay Colony Shakespeare Company (BCSC) in the new auditorium.

When the students walked in, the stage was set with three tarps that functioned as backdrops and later a large wooden plank that functioned as Juliet’s home.

Although “Romeo and Juliet” is typically a two hour long play, this production was 75 minutes. It was executed very well and still easy to follow. The cast did an excellent job displaying the story.

Even though only some students were familiar with “Romeo and Juliet,” such as the seniors and a few freshmen, the overall audience was still able to follow the plot. Andrew Vasquez, class of 2021, went to the performance not having read the play before. He said, “I liked the strong connection between Romeo and Juliet. [This performance] helped me get the gist of the play and gave me a good understanding.”

Although the story was told through Shakespearean language and the audience could only pick up select parts of the dialog, the actors’ actions helped the viewer to understand the plot.

It was executed very well and still easy to follow.

— Kathryn Genest

Laurel Blanchard, class of 2018, said she “thought it [the overall play] got the basics of the story across and with a small simple set and limited actors they still managed to tell the major events of Romeo and Juliet.”

The characters in the families did not wear period costumes, except for the two Friars. The cast wore leather jackets, jeans, and T-shirts, and the Capulet women wore longer skirts and dresses.

Another interesting alteration was the combination of the characters Lord and Lady Capulet, played by Liz Adams. During the play’s time period (Verona, Italy in the Middle Ages), the father of the household would make the decisions as to who the daughter would marry. In this version, Lady Capulet assumed the roles of both Lord and Lady. As a single mother raising Juliet on her own and making all the decisions, Lady Capulet came off as a strong, feminist character.

During the show, sometimes characters would come through the aisles of the auditorium. This kept the audience engaged and added an element of surprise. Characters such as Mercutio (Brandon Lee) also pulled the audience in with his strong eye contact and overall energy.

The nurse (Liz Michael Hartford) had some great comedic moments. She did an admirable job executing them. For instance, when she returns from seeing Romeo about the wedding arrangements, Hartford became very funny when not seeing Juliet’s appreciation. She fell to the ground yelling about her aching back. By contrast, Hartford also had great tragic moments towards the end of the play when she finds Juliet “dead.” Hartford displayed great pain and anguish and was very believable in her role.

Actor Cody Sloan doubled as Tybalt and Paris, fully committing to both characters and depicting them very well. It can be difficult to switch between contrasting characters in one show. For instance, when Sloan plays Tybalt, being a character full of anger, and has to switch to playing Paris, a count and a member of the royal court, he did a wonderful job. 

Being a traveling cast, every auditorium is different from the next. Therefore, it was impressive how the company was able to carry out the show professionally. They came to the space just that morning, set up their equipment, and started the show with barely any rehearsal to familiarize themselves with the space. 

In a Q&A session after the show, the actors were asked about memorizing such challenging dialogue. They said it was actually easier to memorize this type of conversation because Shakespearean language had a “rhythm” to it, being written in iambic pentameter.

Students were grateful to BCSC for the performance and Shakespearean experience, and to the Abington Arts Council and the Middle School PTO who provided the grant that funded this production.  Additional thanks to Mr. Shannon for making it happen.