FringeTastic: Romeo & Juliet

By Dalia Wolfson12th Grade, Hunter College High School R.L. Stine (Goosebumps wordsmith) must have had an encounter with Shakespeare in some far-off literary land, because this year’s Fringe Festival presents a pick-your-poison adventure: Romeo and Juliet: Choose Your Own Ending. In an hour and a half, The Impressionable Players hop and skip and soliloquize in Elizabethan brocade, agonizing over family rivalries and romantic decisions – and all in iambic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet, wonderfully written by Ann and Shawn Fraistat, is a lovely chance to see a little bit more of Verona’s citizenry. The young Romeo, clad in an embroidered jean jacket, turns to the audience at three points during the play and asks the fatal questions- Rosaline or That Girl from the Capulet masquerade ball? Stab Tybalt or not? As a result, there are eight possible outcomes, and a slew of new characters that you might or might not see. This version of the well-worn classic is surprisingly new and emotional: the UMad students all act out their parts energetically and it’s truly exciting to see, say, Rosaline in real life or Mercutio in drag. The Fraistat siblings have turned the tale of sad endings into a comedy – just imagine Juliet on the balcony…with a harpoon. During the talk-back, Ann explained their motive: “Everyone says the original play is about soul mates, whereas it’s actually about tragic fate. We’re here to make fun of Shakespeare for it.” And even though there may not be depth per se to the characters, we get the paper cutouts of new characters – depending on the audience’s choices, Romeo may turn out to be an innocent, wide-eyed lad or an insensitive, conniving cur. Indeed, though some of the roles here may appear archetypal, but in answering the nagging “What if?” the actors prove that actions really do reflect character types. Romeo and Juliet is brimming with clever quips and sword tips, and hopefully, you’ll come again because if you’ve seen it once…you’ve seen it once. *Plog Pick TICKETS