Friday, July 5, 2013

Review: (Toronto) Rovero and Juliet (Fringe)

Shakespeare for kids that works for the whole family
by Colette Shaw

The puppet show Rovero and Juliet tells the story of the warring houses of the Muttagues and Catulets, and in consideration of their audience has a happy ending. Billed as a juvenile work of Billy Shakespeare with help from his Mum (who made the costumes) this kids' venue show manages to be surprisingly faithful to Shakespeare’s original, while still being entertaining for both kids and their parents. The show I saw had a very small house, and while the kids were engaged, some of the loudest laughs came from the adult audience members.

I was really impressed by how strong this show is just as an adaptation of Shakespeare’s original: with only two puppeteers performing ten characters, the performance manages to recreate almost all of the beats of Romeo and Juliet (Mercutio is the only major character who is absent, but I frankly didn’t miss him at all in this version).  They manage to earn their happy ending without copping out on all of the bad decisions made by principal characters, and even manage to clear up a common misunderstanding of the line “wherefore art thou Romeo?” all without being pedantic or unduly tied to the original language.  The puppet work was all great, and I was star-struck to discover that one of the puppeteers was Trish Leeper, who has a long history with the Jim Henson Muppets, and who cut her teeth as Ma Gorogon on Fraggle Rock! That being said, the other performer, Allan Martin, was more than able to old up his side(s) of the performance. See this show if you want to introduce your child to theatre, to Shakespeare, or enjoy Shakespeare, puppetry or children’s shows. 

Rover and Juliette is at the Toronto Fringe

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