Romeo And Juliet – Canopy Theatre

By Adam Collier

After intermission, the Canopy Theatre’s production of Romeo And Juliet soared above a serviceable mounting of one Shakespeare’s most familiar texts, and was a tour de force of supple emotion.

It’s studded with strong actors in supporting roles: Juliet’s Nurse (played by Emily Andrews), Mercutio (Paul Kit) and Benvolio (Andrew Knowlton), and Friar Laurence (Thomas Gough). Mr. Kit, who was nominated for a Dora for his performance in Macbeth in the title role, and Mr. Gough, who played Polonius in the Hart House’s production of Hamlet in 2005, were in very high form the night I attended. As was Brendan May (playing an attendant to Ms. Andrews’ no-nonsense Nurse) and Brad Ingham imbuing Paris with poise and arrogance, lifting above a stock character of entitled aristocracy.

Mr. May and Mr. Ingham appear in the second-half of the play though; the first half is really owned by Ms. Andrews, Mr. Kit, and Mr. Knowlton.

Not until after the intermission though did it seem to me that the characters for which the play is named, emerge in full force.
Beyond the text, Romeo (Tyrone Savage) becomes a fuller character on stage. It seemed to me that Mr. Savage was less conscious of the acoustics of the outdoor venue – which are challenging, and that the cast more than overcame – and his voice returned to a relatively natural range. With that, I sensed far more nuances from one line to the next.
Juliet (Cosette Derome) also expanded in range. Though throughout Ms Derome does suggest the many personas of her character (Juliet is different with the Nurse, Lady Capulet and Romeo), and I was struck by how she seemed so easily to sustain a mixture of maturity and innocence.

I also thought that Mr. Derome and Mr. Savage seemed most comfortable – and free – in how they projected their emotions after intermission.

The director Andrea Wasserman (whom, amongst other credits has been the artistic director of the Canopy for five season) has done a fantastic job. The emotions, language, story and its many settings were always, at the minimum, clear and engaging to me.

Overall this is – as suggested by the huge audience on the night I went out on, a must-see show. Canopy has established, in this, its ninth season, a theatrical tradition in Toronto, and in a big city, establishing any traditions is hard. You can tell that this has been a lovingly produced show, overflowing with talent and it really deserves patronage.

Details

Romeo And Juliet is playing now through August 1st at the Philosopher’s Stage, which is just behind the Faculty of Law, and just to south of the Faculty of Music, on the U of T’s St. George campus.
– Tickets are available at the venue, and Wednesday is pay what you can night
– Weekly performances run Wednesday through Saturday, and begin at 8
– Blankets and chairs are welcome
– For more details please contact canopytheatre.ca