Chicago Shakespeare Theater has created a sumptuous setting for the star-crossed lovers’ story. Michael Yeargan’s sets and Candice Donnelly’s costumes transform the play into a series of Renaissance paintings come to life. Under the visual spectacle, though, this production (directed by Mark Lamos) seems a little undernourished. “Romeo and Juliet,” given its immense presence in classrooms and pop culture, risks becoming a glorified Blue Oyster Cult song. Evading this trap demands that the audience feel the intensity of the pair’s adolescent attraction, enabling it to negate entirely the judgments of the social world around them. But Carman Lacvita’s Romeo and Julia Coffey’s Juliet never quite manage to evoke such primal emotion. Lacvita’s delivery at times makes him sound uncannily like emo godfather Jonathan Richman. And Coffey really comes to life only in her rage against her tyrannical father. Among the supporting cast, Steve Hendrickson’s Capulet stands out, investing an often-overlooked role with the intimations of Lear’s furious age, as does Robert Petkoff’s Mercutio. Chicago heavyweights Rondi Reed and Mike Nussbaum play the fateful accomplices Nurse and Friar Lawrence; while Reed pulls off the Nurse’s monstrous practicality beautifully, Nussbaum adds a little too much Romeoville to this “Romeo.” (John Beer)
This production is now closed.