Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Babson College’s theater in residence in Wellesley, has been presenting free performances of the Bard’s works on the Boston Common since 1996. The non-profit puts a decidedly contemporary spin on its summer productions, exploring the classic plays in innovative ways. Bring your blankets and low lawn chairs down to the Parkman Bandstand on the Boston Common for Romeo and Juliet, Shakespeare’s best-known play, running through August 6. Get lost in a world where loved-crazed teenagers, parents impatient to marry off children impatient to be married off (ah, but to the wrong people!), and a misguided priest who has no business prescribing poison bring down a plague upon their own houses.
Romeo (John Zdrojeski) is goofy and besotted, and could use something besides the ideas of romantic love to occupy his time. Born too late to be sent out to fight in the Crusades, and apparently of too noble birth to be put to any real use in his current time, Romeo molders about, sighing and refusing to tell anyone what’s wrong. It’s so much fun when people keep asking you what’s wrong.
Juliet (Gracyn Mix) is fiery, spoiled, and determined to get her way in this matter of the heart, as she likely has in all matters previously. She impresses herself with her own logic as when, obsessing over her love for a Montague she rhetorically asks, “Wouldn’t a rose by any other name smell as sweet?” And pouf, all barriers to the forbidden Montague – Capulet coupling are dismantled. To Juliet, anyway.
Her father’s (Fred Sullivan, Jr.) opinion skews in another direction. Fred Sullivan, Jr., made Lord Capulet seem like such a genial gentleman at first. Perhaps a bit quick to arrange the marriage of his 13-year old daughter, but oh well, such were the times. But then he got scary, and the storm of verbal abuse he unleashes on the apple of his eye is not to be missed.
Directed by Allegra Libonati.
REMAINING PERFORMANCES: Tuesday – Saturday at 8pm; Sunday at 7pm; (Off Mondays). There will be one 3pm matinee performance on Saturday, August 5.
All performances are free. Friends section chairs available for a $75 donation.