‘Romeo & Juliet; Virtually’ The Star-Crossed Lovers at Crossed Circuits

By Ernest KearneyRomeo & Juliet;Virtually is another valiant effort to breach the great barrier of the current crisis and provide theatre to a hungry audience while maintaining social isolation. Conceived and directed by Miles Berman, this effort takes its cue from Ethan Hawke’s modern adaptation of Hamlet (2000) wherein the story is all captured on video cameras, closed-circuit TV and other means of everyday surveillance.


Berman however has tried to confine Shakespeare’s tragedy of star-crossed lovers within the zoom conferencing of the various performers’ cell phones.
It is not an easy fit.

The adaptation by Steve Vlasak, wisely manages to avoid the major failing of other plague productions that have attempted fusion with technology in that he embraces the medium.


The piece is bookended by broadcasts of breaking news in “fair Pomona.” Throughout this retelling, Berman and Production Manager Allison Faith Sulock manage to properly use film techniques to keep their effort from sinking into a static staging played out in front of a stationary camera.


While there are drastic problems in undertaking this project, involving the modernization of the script and the demands of conveying the intimacy of the drama via connecting portals within a Zoom room, the Achilles’ heel of this attempt comes down to the age-old problem of casting.

Amber Stepp as Nurse Nam, Vanja Renee as a gender-switched Tybalt, Yorke G. Fryer as the pot smoking Friar Larry and John DiDonna and Dion Leonhard DiDonna as pop and mom Capulet manage to meet the needs of this project; however in virtual land, as in every theatre since 1597, Romeo and Juliet lives and dies on the chemistry between the young lovers.


It should be a combination of fire and gas; here it’s more like coal and bubble gum.

This staging was going to be presented live for all performances and that does add a certain zap to the proceeding.


Again, let me say, while falling short of its objectives, one still must admire Berman, Vlasak and Cast for fighting the good fight.

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Romeo & Juilet; Virtually
has two remaining shows.

The two remaining live shows are
Friday, August 28, and Saturday, August 29, both at 6:00 PT.


$9 Tickets and more info are at
www.MilesBeyondEntertainment.com

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(NOTE: Cast Featured in Image Above: Miles Berman, Yorke Fryer, Stephanie Kutty, Dion and John DiDonna, Amber Stepp, Vanja Renee, Myles McGee, Paris Moletti)

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An award-winning L.A. playwright and rabble-rouser of note who has hoisted glasses with Orson Welles, been arrested on three continents and once beat up Charlie Manson. His first play, "Among the Vipers" was a semi-finalist in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition and was featured in the Carnegie-Mellon Showcase of New Plays. It was produced at the NPT Theater in Ashland, Oregon and Los Angeles’ celebrated Odyssey Ensemble Theatre. His following play, “The Little Boy Who Loved Monsters” was produced at The Hollywood Actors Theater, where he earned praise from the Los Angeles Times for his “…inordinately creative writing.” The play went on to numerous other productions including Berlin’s The Black Theatre under the direction of Rainer Fassbinder who wrote in his program notes of Kearney, “He is a skilled playwright, but more importantly he is a dangerous one.” Ernest Kearney has worked as literary manager or as dramaturge for among others The Hudson Theater Guild, Nova Diem and the Odyssey Ensemble Theatre, where he still serves on the play selection committee. He has been the recipient of two Dramalogue Awards and a finalist or semi-finalist, three times, in the Julie Harris Playwriting Competition. His work has been performed by Michael Dunn, Sandra Tsing Loh, Jack Colvin and Billy Bob Thornton, and to date, either as playwright or director, he has upwards of a hundred and thirty productions under his belt, including a few at the Bob Baker Marionette Theater as puppeteer. Kearney remains focused on his writing, as well as living happily ever after with his lovely wife Marlene. His stage reviews and social essays can be found at TheTVolution.com and workingauthor.com. Follow him on Facebook.

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    Thanks for tuning in, Ernest. We’ve taken your comments to heart, and hopefully the remaining two live performances august 28 & 29 will reflect them. 🙏💙🌹

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