San Diego Theater Review: ROMEO, ROMEO & JULIET (The Roustabouts Theatre Co. at Moxie Theatre)

by Milo Shapiro on June 25, 2018

in Theater-Los Angeles,Theater-Regional

Post image for San Diego Theater Review: ROMEO, ROMEO & JULIET (The Roustabouts Theatre Co. at Moxie Theatre)

PARTING IS SUCH SWEET SORROW
AFTER A PLAY THIS GOOD

“What’s in a name?” Juliet famously asks. A lot, if the name is Ruff Yeager. Yeager, co-founder of The Roustabouts Theatre Co., has been a long-time staple of fine directing and powerful acting in San Diego, particularly chilling as the central character in Roustabouts’ debut production, Margin of Error, last April. This time around, we’re treated to his sharp wit in his role as playwright and the results (especially with such good casting) show Yeager to be as impressive at the keyboard as on stage.

Under Kim Strassburger’s tight direction, the fast-paced first act flies by with big energy, lifted further by a good deal of audience laughter. We start with a handsome young actor named Tracy (Michael Silberblatt, in his San Diego professional stage debut) complaining off-stage to his director Simon (Brian Mackey, so recently outstanding in Noises Off at Lamb’s Players). Tracy is frustrated at the sudden need to replace the woman who was supposed to play Juliet opposite his Romeo. Simon assures him that the woman flying in to play the part comes highly recommended to be able to handle the one-week turnaround needed to get this play up and running.

Enter Nancy (Michelle Marie Trester), who is not at all what either expect. Nancy is a barrel of joyful Mormon ADHD energy but she is also highly sensitive and easily distracted. To the men’s horror, the first-time-ever-away-from-home girl has never studied Shakespeare, but feels certain she can handle it because, somehow, she landed a lead role in Oklahoma — in a small stage production in Utah. Can high-strung Simon and petulant Tracy get their Liza Doolittle to be their Juliet in only a week without losing their minds? Therein lies the fun of Romeo, Romeo, & Juliet.

Adding to the confusion is Tracy’s unrequited romantic interest in the awkward Simon (thus the title), which no one is sure how conservative Nancy will handle — if she ever figures it out — especially as she seems to be developing eyes for Tracy herself.

While succeeding as a comedy, Act II is also moving at times, as we see the underbelly behind all the energy that Nancy endlessly spews.

Romeo, Romeo, & Juliet grabs us from the onset, is delightful chaos throughout, and leaves us feeling good, adding yet another worthy production (their fourth) to Roustabouts’ short history.

photos by Daren Scott

Romeo, Romeo & Juliet
The Roustabouts Theatre Co.
playing at the Moxie Theatre, 6663 El Cajon Blvd. Suite N
Thurs-Sat at 8; Sun at 2
ends on July 8, 2018
for tickets, call 619.728.7820 or visit Roustabouts

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