Sunday, August 14, 2011

FRINGE: Romeo and Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending

Romeo and Juliet is a timeless play, but many of the characters are insufferable and their actions frustrating. So, when I was reading over the 194 selections at this year's New York International Fringe Festival and came across the title Romeo and Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending, I knew I had to see it. Finally, the chance to control the outcome. It turns out that even when you choose your own ending, the results may not be ideal, but you probably won't find a Romeo and Juliet as fun or short (only 90 minutes) as this one.

There are three points in the play at which audiences vote by a show of hand. The first is when Romeo (James Waters) goes to the masquerade at the home of the Capulets and has to choose between wooing Juliet (Kyra Corradin) or Rosaline (Katie Jeffries). My audience chose Rosaline. In this version, Rosaline is Tybalt's (Matthew Sparacino) sister and a Capulet, so it still turns out to be a tale of star-crossed lovers, except that Rosaline is older and more cynical than Juliet, so she rejects Romeo's advances at first. Waters, whose boyish looks work so well for the lovesick Romeo, and Jeffries make for a believable couple. I suppose it's possible that Rosaline could have been a Capulet, but this almost feels too easy. [Correction: Turns out, Rosaline is indeed a Capulet. Thanks to Katie Jeffries for pointing that out.] So that Juliet is not completely left out, Benvolio (Rob Mueller), who I always thought of as the character in Shakespeare's version the most free from blame, falls in love with her. Kudos to the actors, most of whom have to play multiple parts and memorize each combination of results on top of that.

The play was written by brother and sister team Ann and Shawn Fraistat (with some help from William Shakespeare, of course), who have a knack for writing Shakespearan rhyme so it blends easily with the lines from the actual play, even with some anachronistic language thrown in. There are 8 different endings to choose from, so you might find yourself wanting to go back and see what could have been.

Remaining performances for Romeo and Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending: Thu 18 @ 7:30, Sat 20 @ 2:15, Sun 21 @ 2:30, and Fri 26 @ 4:15

Photo from left to right: Kyra Corradin as Juliet, James Waters as Romeo, Katie Jeffries as Rosaline


Katie said...

Thanks for the great review! Fyi though - Rosaline actually was a Capulet. That's straight from the original text. Little-known fact. :)

-Katie (aka Rosaline)

Linda said...

It's been a while since I read Romeo and Juliet, so I didn't realize that. Guess I should have researched that. Thanks for the correction.