Wednesday, October 29, 2008





On Tuesday the 16th October we went to the Kaaitheatre in Brussels to attend the adaptation of the play Romeo and Juliet. This was performed by Nature Theatre of Oklahoma from New York. The play is a succession of monologues performed by two actors: Anne Gridley and Robert M. Johanson. In turn they try to reconstruct the original Shakespearian story of Romeo and Juliet, which totally confuses them. They mix this story with other elements: other Shakespearian plays, nowadays events, movies, and so on. The second part consists in dialogues between the two actors and is about the relation between the actors and their public. The play ends with the famous scene of the balcony in total darkness.



Here are our meanings concerning the play:

Romeo and Juliet… Everybody knows that story written by Shakespeare. However I am not sure that someone has already left a performance of the play being more confused about the story than ever. And thoughit happens since I was confused when I left the Kaaitheater. The actors are indeed getting so confused about family names, who loves whom, who dies, that the spectators are themselves confused. Apart from that I find the play quite good. The first part was the most captivating and sometimes funny. In the second part I had a greater feeling of being bored in the sense that it was a repetition of the first part. Though it is worthy to note that the end and the final sentences were creative. Moreover it brings a message not only to us, spectators of Shakespearian plays, but also to nowadays plays, films makers and writers. To know the kind of message it is just check if the New Yorkian troupe comes back in Belgium.

Hélène Vancompernolle

As far as my point of view is concerned, I felt a bit disappointed about this theatre performance. It was quite boring since only two actors were performing each one on his/her turn. Moreover their monologues often repeated each other and no effort concerning the set was to be found. It was quite plain. The only thing which could catch the eye of the spectator was humor. They indeed interpreted the story in a particular way, leading to laughter in the audience. Another humorous element was the appearance of a dancing chicken between all these monologues. Even if the scenario was quite boring, the performance of the actors was excellent. Their articulation as well as their body language were remarkable. In conclusion, the theatre performance’s form was quite bad compared with its content.

Elodie Coene

This play was not as good as I expected. Here are some reasons to explain my point of view.
First, I was disappointed because it was very far away from the traditional Shakespearian story of ‘Romeo and Juliet’. It was absolutely not like the real play, but more like a joke about it and I really did not appreciate that.
Second, what I found even more irritating is that at the end of the first part of the play we do not remember what actually happened to Romeo and Juliet. Did Romeo drink poison or was it Juliet? Did Juliet die by stabbing herself or was it her beloved Romeo?
Third, at the end of the play, the actors began to speak about the relationship between them and their public. Yet, there is absolutely no link with what they were telling before.
These are the reasons why I did not like this adaptation. However there are also positive things concerning the play. Like the fact that both actors were really good: they have a perfect pronunciation (thanks to the fact that they are native speakers) and their eloquence is amazing. And last bu not least, there was a very funny dancing-chicken.
To conclude, I did not appreciate the play but the actors should persevere and find another style because they are really great.

Marie-Eve Vandoorne

I am not very enthusiastic about the play we saw in Brussels. It is true that the actors’ performance was impressive but the story in itself was really hard to understand. It was impossible for me to enter the play because it consisted in little sequences with one actor each time and when they come together in the second part I did not see the point of their conversation. Hesitation markers were really boring, I had the feeling that the different sequences were all the same. At the end of the play I felt really frustrated, it was quite impossible to remember the events and the end of the original version of Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare. The funniest was when a third actor appeared between two parts with a chicken costume. He began to move his body as if he was dancing on rock music. I was really bored after the three first monologues and did not follow the rest with much attention. Perhaps the talent of the actors can be more emphasised on another context, but I am not interested in seeing them once again.

Céline Piette

The best-known Shakespearean play revisited by the Nature Theatre of Oklahoma was quite surprising: two actors speaking in turn (but not reciting the original play), very simple decors and costumes, a human-sized chicken coming from nowhere just to dance and a scene of the play recited in total darkness. Interesting, no? I must admit that I quite liked this adaptation which had nothing to do with “Romeo and Juliet” as such. In their try to remember the whole story of the lovers of Verona, the two people do not hesitate to refer back to events of nowadays’ everyday life of even to movies. The funny in it was all the confusions it could bring about in their mind. I found the actor’s plays very awesome: recall so many different versions of their “memories” must not be a piece of cake! And you, as a spectator, are also confused in the end! You almost forget the true end of “Romeo and Juliet”… Did they use a knife, or poison, or both? Who died first? Very good confusing job, anyway!
To me, though, these confusing memories of the actual story contained too many “I think”, “I am not sure”, “It could be”,… so that it was boring. The monologues were too numerous too. What did the chicken do in that play? I still do not understand her (yes, it was a woman in the costume) utility… Never mind. I would like to give my last negative point to the end of the play. Why speaking of the relation between the actor and his public like that and after such a representation?
Nevertheless, we got five minutes of “real” Shakespeare in the very end. I found the balcony scene recited in total darkness very intense and full of love… Brilliant!

Louise Chandaras

This play was an original manner to retell the mythic story of Romeo and Juliet. After all, it is true that lots of people tend to mix up the different characters and events of this well-known Shakespearian play. The actors were good, they managed well to catch the audience’s attention. However, they presented so many versions of the story that I finally got completely confused myself! Roll on Mr Delabastita’s course on Romeo and Juliet to put all of this in order! J
Except from this confusing effect, the repetition of the story in different versions was also a bit repetitive.
One thing still remains unexplained: the presence of the big chicken waddling on the scene from time to time…Maybe this funny character was meant to amuse the public in order to break the repetitive rhythm of the play…
If I had to mark the play I would give 6/10: nice but a bit repetitive.

Marie Marchand

In my view, this play was unusual but nice. Everybody knows indeed Shakespeare's masterpiece "Romeo and Juliet". So it was great to see a new adaption of that story.
This adaption was also fun in the sense that it made us confused by the wrong memories that the two characters had of the play. I was wondering if I really knew this play! The first question that we asked to each other just after the play was "How does in fact Juliet die?". The play was however a bit repetitive and strange. I didn't get the whole sense of it. The dancing chicken and the dialogues about the relationship between the actors and the public were absurd. But it was a nice evening and a good exercise for our listening comprehension!

Catherine Lanthier




1 comment:

Simon Labate said...

Five second comment (to spoof "five second movies"):

In short the play was just average and there was a funny dancing chicken whose purpose is unknown? I wonder how the Rambo re-interpretation turned out to be…