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Before Juliet – A Review

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Before Juliet – A Review

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The only other school play I’ve attended was last year’s The Crucible, a play filled with so many talented young actors and directors from our department that it was difficult to find any critiques. While the play was full of talent, and I may be crucified for saying this (pun intended), it was a narrative I found difficult to follow.

As someone who had never seen or read anything about The Crucible, the individual scenes were long and full of plot-intensive dialogue, but it was difficult to discern what it was truly about. I later discovered that The Crucible is an allegory for McCarthyism, a term coined by cartoonist Herbert Block to describe the slanderous accusations of then-senator McCarthy. He would accuse people of power of being Communists. This was the time of the Cold War, mind you, when tensions were high, so being accused of being one made you look anti-American and could ruin not just a career, but a life. The allover performance and execution of the play still wins me over, and I will say that it was a truly magnificent work from our theatre department.

The first play to hit the PAC this school year is Before Juliet, a play headed by Gina Nelson, the new RCHS Theatre Department Director, and it went over almost as well as The Crucible. I believe it may simply be my taste for the brooding themes The Crucible offers, or the more sinister and obscene overarching patterns it presented, that brings me to like The Crucible more than Before Juliet because I feel relatively the same on the execution of both. Before Juliet is a love story very similar to that of Romeo and Juliet, but less well-known, and therefore less trite.

Once again we have an entire cast of talented young individuals who all put forth the greatest effort they could and I really felt that in this play. I felt each individual playing a part, each string being brilliantly plucked to create a harmonious symphony. From Romeo, played by LaDarius White, all the way down to the “Chorus of Darkness,” I felt them each.

If I had to choose a character most vital to the play, I don’t know who I would choose.  From the necessary actions of Rosaline, played by Noemi Rivera, and the overwhelming force of the “Chorus of Darkness,” each character’s presence was felt and heard. This effect was caused due to there being almost no scenes with more than three prominent speakers. The speakers were loud and phonetic. I wish to applaud the Chorus’ performance for the play would not have been nearly as interesting without the constant lurking of each of their cast. Their representation in the play almost felt like they were a sinful temptation, and as a play with large Christian themes, it isn’t a difficult reach. I also send praise to Courtney Johnson whose performance was probably the best from the little sinful kiddies in the back. She played a very convincing Strife. Props also to Hannah Grisham for her convincing portrayal of Death.

Willsbond Mubuan also did a wonderful job of bringing the deceitful, playful, and threatening Tybalt character to life, and if there were ever a Romeo and Juliet play to hit the stage, then I would be offended if he was not cast as Tybalt again. I could also see him in a Romeo position.

Matthew Homan and Andrew McNiel played Mercutio and Benvolio. They were two very forgetful characters, which isn’t to say the acting was bad, because I felt they both did good jobs. They simply only appeared in two scenes.

Finally, we have the future protagonist of the play that Before Juliet was spawned from, Juliet, played by Lily Garcia. There was nothing special of her portrayal. There was nothing of note, at least. I would say that she did her job and she did it well. She did not stumble over lines, forget, or miss a beat. In fact, I’d say that her performance was almost forgetful due to its skillfulness. Almost, though. She will still be remembered.

Overall, I enjoyed the play and I would’ve paid more than $3 for it. Its overarching themes of deceit, love, and a romantic nature led me to having a good and playful time. It might not have been so much fun if I was without a date to the theatre that night, however. The play felt like it took itself serious, but didn’t cross that line of becoming stone faces and dead-pitch deliveries. Our theatre department has a wide variety of personalities and heaps of talent to play off of, and I’m excited for their next project.

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Before Juliet – A Review