Shakespeare on the Green modernizes “Romeo and Juliet”

Shakespeare on the Green produced a rendition of “Romeo and Juliet” from Saturday April 22-23 on the college green. The show featured a contemporary twist on the classic romance by switching gender roles and modernizing the characters. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

Shakespeare on the Green produced a rendition of “Romeo and Juliet” from Saturday April 22-23 on the college green. The show featured a contemporary twist on the classic romance by switching gender roles and modernizing the characters. (Ash Dean/Photo Editor)

Geneseo was treated to a classic Shakespearean tale with a modern twist on Saturday April 22 and Sunday April 23, as a group of talented students presented Shakespeare on the Green: “Romeo and Juliet.” The play was directed by sociology major sophomore Hunter Simms and communication major sophomore Emily Arpino and was narrated by Jeremy Jackson ‘16. 

The rendition was mostly consistent with the original play, but with a few modern changes. The two feuding families, the Montagues and Capulets, both disapprove of any positive interaction between its members. The play opened with an entertaining sword fight that portrayed the already-present tension. 

Amidst this conflict was a budding and hidden romance between Romeo Montague and Juliet Capulet. The most interesting part of this reenactment, however, was that Romeo and Juliet were both female characters. Romeo’s name remained, but the character’s pronouns were changed from “he” and “him” to “she” and “her.” 

Additionally, Juliet called Romeo her “lady,” as opposed to her “lord.” Romeo was played by geological science major senior Tanairi Taylor, while Juliet was played by musical theater sophomore Skye Rose. 

Despite this change, the show went on according to script and the plot was treated with humility, thus making that small change so much greater—Romeo and Juliet still got married secretly with the help of the friar, as played by anthropology major junior Blain Shinkle. 

To make the reading stand out even more, the cast and crew integrated edgier elements into the performance’s costuming and music. Juliet wore a leather jacket and fishnet stockings, and garage punk played at the party where Romeo and Juliet first met, rather than classical music.

Some other main attributes that made this retelling shine were the subtle details sprinkled throughout the production. For example, Lady Capulet—played by biology and theater double major junior Leeann Bruetsch—carried around a glass of wine for the entire play, occasionally taking sips, only to have it finished by the end of the play. 

Romeo’s trusty companions Mercutio and Benvolio—played by international relations major junior Rachel Gdula and biochemistry major Quinn Johanson respectively—were comical and lively, bounding into every entrance they made. Every time they stood onstage, they gave the audience a spectacle to see.

Additionally, Paris—played by international relations major freshman John McDermott—offered some comic relief amidst the tragedy of the play with his over-the-top character. In fact, a highlight of the performance was Paris’ death scene, in which he was killed instantly, leaving McDermott to flail on the ground crying out, “I am slain!” all the while garnering a great laugh from the audience. 

“Romeo and Juliet” has been adapted countless times since its origin, and the twists from this cast and production were admirable, making for an enjoyable weekend activity on the green.