In this Noise Within production, the action takes place not in Verona in the 1500s, but in the Italian coastal town of Rimini in the 1930s. The sets convey this time and place to a degree, but the costumes really drive it home.
Lady Capulet (played by Abby Craden), with her sexy red dresses and dramatic flourishes, conjures up the great Anna Magnani or some other Roberto Rossellini starlet.
Juliet (newcomer Joy Osmanski) wears clingy satin lingerie and pretty shirtdresses. And Paris and Tybalt (Jos Viramontes and Ken Merckx) look straight out of Mussolini's army. Props, such as a wristwatch and a flashlight, add an element of curiosity as well.
Other than the '30s aspect, this rendition is pretty straightforward, yet professional. The actors' lines are well-rehearsed and clearly articulated. However, it is only the stalwart Noise Within actors that have a little fun with their characters, tuning them into real people.
As always, Deborah Strang is excellent. Her Nurse is the bawdiest I've seen. She's not conniving as others have played her, but rather undereducated and opportunistic. She clearly adores and looks out for her "baby" Juliet, but isn't on the same mental ground.
Mark Bramhall as Friar Laurence also seems wonderfully comfortable in his part as a man of the cloth. While supposedly a pillar of morality, he's actually all too human — full of conflict, struggling with what's right. He also has good chemistry with Romeo, played by Steve Coombs in his A Noise Within debut, affording Romeo a depth of character not seen in other interplays.