Romeo and Juliet at Arts on the Waterfront
by Anna Minard www.artsonthewaterfront.com/press
ROMEO AND JULIET Stripped-down, ridiculous, and wickedly entertaining.
Waterfront Park Fri-Sun at 7 pm. Through July
Down on the waterfront, right next to the aquarium, in the shadow of a Ferris wheel, you can see a two-person Romeo and Juliet for free. Mickey Rowe and Laurie Roberts, two young local actors, have adapted the play in a sweet and sometimes ingenious way—she plays Mercutio to his Romeo, he the Nurse to her Juliet. Some moments are ridiculous but wickedly entertaining, as when Roberts plays Tybalt and kills herself as Mercutio (it sounds confusing, but it works). The costume and prop and quick-change creativity is half the fun: They rig an umbrella to rain on itself with a water bottle on the tip and use an empty jacket and hat that stand in for Friar Laurence, each actor inserting one arm into each sleeve to animate it. The other props are water balloons and a pair of ladders, some milk crates, and a janky wig. Their website credits the lighting design to “the city of Seattle and sunset.”
Roberts’s Mercutio is guffawing and blustery and very funny, all limbs and leans and sneers. Rowe’s dorkily twitterpated Romeo makes just enough fun of the character’s schoolboy crush to turn down the play’s maudlin factor, which has overwhelmed other productions. It’s not perfect (the acoustics are poor, and the actors have to shout nearly every line), but it’s remarkably better than what you might expect when you approach the few rows of chairs lined up in Waterfront Park. The audience seems to be a combination of people there deliberately and people who stumbled over it. There’s an art show beforehand, live cello accompaniment by Brandon Smith, and more live music after every show. And Ivar’s down the street has a rewarding happy hour every day of the week that runs until closing time.