The noble Veronese houses of Montague and Capulet are locked in a bitter feud. When Romeo, a Montague, and Juliet, a Capulet, fall in love, they are swept up in a series of violent events and cruel twists of fortune. Their secret meetings propel them inexorably to a tragic fate. A true masterpiece, this unforgettable work contains some of the Bard's most beautiful poetry. Performed by Joseph Fiennes, Maria Miles, and the Arkangel cast.
Because this production of Romeo and Juliet features a full-cast performance, original music, and sound effects, it could accurately be described as an audio play. This tragic tale of the world's most famous star-crossed couple was originally written to be seen, but the genius of Shakespeare's language is stunningly beautiful to the naked ear as well. When Romeo spies Juliet across a crowded dance floor, he speaks aloud what may be the perfect description of love at first sight: "If my heart e'r loved till now, forswear it sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night." Although you can't see who has so smitten the dear boy, the Juliet you visualize in your mind's eye is far more sublime than any mere mortal could ever hope to be. If there is a disappointment to this production, it is, ironically, the sound itself. At times the actors' overlapping voices are difficult to distinguish, especially for those unfamiliar with Elizabethan vernacular. The music is generally quite good and adds a beneficial element that too few audiocassettes bother to include, but is at times perfunctory and a little too loud. The excellent cast is made up of established members of England's professional theater community, and their performances meet the expectations one would have for such a well-trained and respected group. (Running time: three hours, two cassettes) --George Laney