From Baz Luhrmann’s mid-’90s version with Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes to a 2011 animated retelling with garden gnomes, Romeo and Juliet has been translated into many time periods and approaches over the years. And now the Denver Center Theatre Company is bringing William Shakespeare’s tragic tale of teenage love back to the stage in a new/old way: The production is set in the period when it was written, complete with stunning costumes and sets from the era.
Director Scott Wentworth says he wanted to re-create the atmosphere in which Shakespeare wrote the play, so that the audience can fully understand the language and historical constraints the famous star-crossed lovers faced. “I think sometimes it can be distancing to an audience if someone has a gun and a shoulder holster and they get into a swordfight,” says Wentworth. “You think, why didn’t they just shoot them?”
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But no matter when the production is set, Wentworth thinks the play remains accessible. “At the center of it is arguably the greatest love story ever written in the English language — a story that everyone can connect to emotionally,” he explains. “But it’s also a play about a society and a culture of violence and greed that is willing to sacrifice its children and its future for the security and continuance of a corrupt present.”
This DCTC production opens tonight and runs through February 24 at the Stage Theatre in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, with performances Tuesday through Thursday at 6:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. For tickets, $36 to $58, visit www.denvercenter.org.
Fridays, Saturdays, 7:30 p.m.; Saturdays, Sundays, 1:30 p.m.; Tuesdays-Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. Starts: Jan. 25. Continues through Feb. 24, 2013